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ST. MICHAEL'S COLLEGE 
TORONTO I CANADA 
I \ \ 
LIBRARY 
\ \ 


PRESENTED BY 


J. J. McKnight 




THE HARVARD CLASSICS 


The Five-Foot Shelf of Books 




THE HARVARD CLASSICS 
EDITED BY CHARLES W. ELIOT, LL.D. 


Essays, Civil and Moral 
AND 
The New Atlantis 
By Francis Bacon 


Areopagitica 
AND 
Tractate on Education 
By John Milton 
Religio Medici 
By Sir Thomas Browne 


With Introductions and Notes 
Volume 3 


P. F. Collier & Son Corporation 
NEW YORK 



Copyright. 1909 
By P. F. COLLIER & SoN 


MA
UFACTURED IN U. S. A. 


r AY 2 7 1953 



CONTENTS 


PAGE 
ESSAYS OR COUNSELS-CIVIL AND MORAL 7 
I. Of Truth 7 
II. Of Death 9 
III. Of Unity in Religion II 
IV. Of Revenge 15 
V. Of Adversity 16 
VI. Of Simulation and Dissimulation 17 
VII. Of Parents and Children 19 
VIII. Of Marriage and Single Life 21 
IX. Of Envy . 22 
X. Of Love . 26 
XI. Of Great Place 28 
XII. Of Boldness 3 1 
XIII. Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature 3 2 
XIV. Of Nobility 3-1 
XV. Of Seditions and Troubles 3 6 
XVI. Of Atheism 4 2 
XVII. Of Superstition 45 
XVIII. Of Travel 4 6 
XIX. Of Empire 4 8 
XX. Of Counsel 52 
XXI. Of Delays 56 
XXII. Of Cunning 57 
XXIII. Of Wisdom for a Man's Self . 60 
XXIV. Of Innovations 61 
XXV. Of Dispatch . 62 
XXVI. Of Seeming Wise 64 
XXVII. Of Friendship 65 
XXVIII. Of Expense . 7 2 
XXIX. Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates 73 
XXX. Of Regiment of Health 81 
XXXI. Of Suspicion 82 
XXXII. Of Discourse 83 
XXXIII. Of Plantations 85 
XXXIV. Of Riches 87 
XXXV. Of Prophecies 9 0 



2 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 
XXXVI. Of Ambition . . . . . 93 
XXXVII. Of Masques and Triumphs 95 
XXXVIII. Of Nature in Men 9 6 
XXXIX. Of Custom and Education. 9 8 
XL. Of Fortune . 99 
XLI. Of Usury 101 
XLII. Of Youth and Age . 10 4 
XLIII. Of Beauty 106 
XLIV. Of Deformity 10 7 
XLV. Of Building . 108 
XL VI. Of Gardens . 112 
XLVII. Of Negotiating 117 
XLVIII. Of Followers and Friends. 119 
XLIX. Of Suitors 120 
L. Of Studies 122 
LI. Of Faction 12 3 
LII. Of Ceremonies and Respects. 12 4 
LIII. Of Praise 126 
LIV. Of Vain-glory 12 7 
LV. Of Honor and Reputation 12 9 
LVI. Of Judicature 13 0 
LVII. Of Anger 134 
LVIII. Of Vicissitude of Things 13 6 
LIX. Of Fame. 14 0 


THE NEW ATLANTIS 145 


AREOPAGITICA . . . 18 3 
Order of the Long Parliament for the Regulating of Printing, 
14 June, 1643 . 18 5 
A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing 18 9 


MILTON'S TRACTATE ON EDUCATION 233 


RELIGIO MEDICI . 249 
The First Part . 253 
The Second Part . 3 I 0 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 


FRANCIS BACON, son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great 
Seal to Queen Elizabeth, was born in London on January 22, 1561. He 
entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of twelve, and in 1576 
he interrupted the law studies he had begun in that year, to go to France 
in the train of the English Ambassador, Sir Amyas Paulet. He was 
called home in 1579 by the death of his father; and, having been left 
with but a small income, he resumed the study of law, and became a 
barrister in 1582. Two years later he entered the House of Commons, 
and began to take an active part in politics. 
From an early age Bacon had been interested in science, and it was 
in the pursuit of scientific truth that his heart lay. He conceived, how- 
ever, that for the achievement of the great results at which he aimed, 
money and prestige were necessary; and he worked hard for both. He 
was a candidate for several offices of state during Elizabeth's reign, but 
gained no substantial promotion, and was often in hard straits for 
money. He received aid from influential patrons, notably the Earl of 
Essex; and his desertion of this nobleman, with the part he took in his 
prosecution for treason, is regarded as one of the chief blots on his 
personal record. 
Shortly after the accession of James I, Bacon was knighted; in 1606 he 
married the daughter of an alderman; and in the following year he 
received the appointment of Solicitor-General, the first important step 
in the career which culminated in the Lord Chancellorship in 1618. In 
the latter year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Verulam, and in 
1621 he became Viscount St. Albans. He was now at the summit of his 
public career; but within four months the crash came, and he was con- 
victed of bribery, and sentenced by the House of Lords to the loss of 
all his offices, to imprisonment, and to the payment of a large fine. He 
died in retirement on April 9, 1626, leaving no children. 
Bacon's most important writings in science and philosophy are parts 
of a vast work which he left unfinished, his "Magna Instauratio." The 
first part of this, the "De Augmentis," is an enlargement in Latin of his 
book on "The Advancement of Learning," in which he takes account of 
the progress in human knowledge to his own day. The second part is 
the famous "Novum Organum," or "New Instrument"; a description of 
the method of induction based on observation and experiment, by which 
he believed future progress was to be made. The later parts consist 
3 



4 INTRODUCTORY NOTE 
chiefly of fragmentary collections of natural phenomena, and tentative 
suggestions of the philosophy which was to result from the application of 
his method to the facts of the physical world. 
Bacon's own experiments are of slight scientific value, nor was he very 
familiar with some of the most important discoveries of his own day; 
but the fundamental principles laid down by him form the foundation of 
modern scientific method. 
Bacon's writings are by no means confined to the field of natural 
philosophy. He wrote a notable "History of Henry VII"; many pam- 
phlets on current political topics; "The New Atlantis," an unfinished ac- 
count of an ideal state; "The \Visdom of the Ancients," a series of 
interpretations of classical myths in an allegorical sense; legal "Maxims"; 
and much else. 
But by far his most popular work is his "Essays," published in three 
editions in his lifetime, the first containing ten essays, in I 597; the 
second, with thirty-eight, in 1612; and the third, as here printed, in 
1625. These richly condensed utterances on men and affairs show in the 
field of conduct something of the same stress on the useful and the 
expedient as appears in his scientific work. But it is unjust to regard the 
"Essays" as representing Bacon's ideal of conduct. They are rather a 
collection of shrewd observations as to how, in fact, men do get on in 
life; human nature, not as it ought to be, but as it is. Sometimes, but 
by no means always, they consider certain kinds of behavior from a moral 
standpoint; oftener they are frankly pieces of worldly wisdom; again, 
they show Bacon's ideas of state policy; still again, as in the essay "Of 
Gardens," they show us his private enthusiasms. They cover an im- 
mense variety of topics; they are written in a clear, concise, at times 
almost epigrammatic, style; they are packed with matter; and now, as 
when he wrote them, they, to use his own words of them, "come home to 
men's business and bosoms." 



THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY 


To the Right Honorable my very good Lo. the DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM 
his Grace, Lo. High Admiral of England. 
EXCELLENT Lo. 
SOLOMON says, A good name is as a precious ointment; and I assure 
myself, such will your Grace's name be with posterity. For your fortune 
and merit both have been eminent. And you have planted things that 
are like to last. I do now publish my Essays; which, of all my other 
works, have been most current; for that, as it seems, they come home 
to men's business and bosoms. I have enlarged them both in number 
and weight; so that they are indeed a new work. I thought it therefore 
agreeable to my affection and obligation to your Grace, to prefix your 
name before them, both in English and in Latin. For I do conceive that 
the Latin volume of them (being in the universal language) may last 
as long as books last. My Instauration I dedicated to the King; my 
History of Henry the Seventh (which I have now also translated into 
Latin), and my portions of Natural History, to the Prince; and these I 
dedicate to your Grace; being of the best fruits that by the good increase 
which God gives to my pen and labors I could yield. God lead your 
Grace by the hand. 
Your Grace's most obliged and 
faithful servant, 
FR. ST. ALBAN. 



ESSAYS OR COUNSELS 
CIVIL AND MORAL 


I 


OF TRUTH 


fl/:: HAT is t,'uth? s3.id jesting Pil3.te, and would not st3.Y for 
an answer. Certainly there be that delight in giddiness, 
and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting l free-will 
in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philoso- 
phers, of that kind 2 be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing 3 
wits which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood 
in them as was in those of the ancients. But it is not only the diffi- 
culty and labor which men take in finding out of truth, nor again 
that when it is found it imposeth upon 4 men's thoughts, that doth 
bring lies in favor; but a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself. 
One of the later schools of the Grecians examineth the matter and 
is at a stand to think what should be in it, that men should love lies, 
where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advan- 
tage, as with the merchant; but for the lie's sake. But I cannot tell; 
this same truth is a naked and open day-light, that doth not show the 
masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and 
daintily as candle-lights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of 
a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of 
a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights. A mix- 
ture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if 
there were taken out of men's minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, 
false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it 
would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, 
full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves? 
1 Loving. 2 The Skeptics. 3 Latin. windv and rambling. 
" Restricts. 5 Lucian. 


7 



8 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum dæmonum 
[devils'-wine], because it filleth the imagination; and yet it is but 
with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through 
the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that 
doth the hurt; such as we spake of before. But howsoever these 
things are thus in men's depraved judgments and affections, yet 
truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of 
truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it, the knowledge of 
truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is 
the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The first 
creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; 
the last was the light of reason; and his sabbath work ever since 
is the illumination of his Spirit. First he breathed light upon the 
face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light into the face of 
man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his 
chosen. The poet 6 that beautified the sece that was otherwise in- 
ferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure to stand 
upon the shore and to see slzips tossed upon the sea; a pleasure to 
stand in the window of a castle and to see a battle and the adven- 
tures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing 
upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and 
where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors and 
wanderings and mists and tempests in the vale below; so always 
that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Cer- 
tainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, 
rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth. 
To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of 
civil business; it will be acknowledged even by those that practise it 
not, that clear and round dealing is the honor of man's nature; and 
that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, 
which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For 
these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent; 
which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet. There is 
no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false 
and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he 
inquired the reason why the word of the lie should be such a dis- 
6 Lucretius. 7 Epicureans. 



OF DEATH 9 
grace and such an odious charge. Saith he, If it be well weighed, to 
say tlzat a man lieth, is as muclz to say, as tlzat he is brave towards 
God and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God, and shrinks 
from man. Surely the wickedness of falsehood and breach of faith 
cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last 
peal to call the judgments of God upon the generations of men; it 
being foretold that when Christ cometh, he shtdl not find faith upon 
the earth. 


II 


OF DEATH 


MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that 
natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Cer- 
tainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin and passage 
to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute 
due unto nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations there is some- 
times mixture of vanity and of superstition. You shall read in some 
of the friars' books of mortification, that a man should think with 
himself what the pain is if he have but his finger's end pressed or 
tortured, and thereby imagine what the pains of death are, when 
the whole body is corrupted and dissolved; when many times death 
passeth with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the most vital 
parts are not the quickest of sense. And by him that spake l only 
as a philosopher and natural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis 
magis terret, quam mors ipsa [It is the accompaniments of death 
that are frightful rather than death itself]. Groans and convulsions, 
and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks,z and obse- 
quies, and the like, show death terrible. It is worthy the observing, 
that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak, but it mates 3 
and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible 
enemy when a man hath so many attendants about him that can win 
the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; 
honor aspireth to it; grief Rieth to it; fear pre-occupateth 4 it; nay, 
we read,s after Otho the emperor had slain himself, pity (which is 


1 Seneca. 2 Mourning garments. 3 Conquers. 
4 Anticipates. S In Plutarch's "Lives." 



10 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere com- 
passion to their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers. Nay, 
Seneca adds niceness 6 and satiety: Cogita quamdiu eadem fecms; 
mori velle, non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest 
[Think how long thou hast done the same thing; not only a valiant 
man or a miserable man, but also a fastidious man is able to wish 
for death]. A man would die, though he were neither valiant nor 
miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft over 
and over. It is no less worthy to observe, how little alteration in 
good spirits the approaches of death make; for they appear to be 
the same men till the last instant. Augustus Cæsar died in a compli- 
ment; Livia, conjugii nostri memor, vive et vale [Farewell, Livia; 
and forget not the days of our marriage]. Tiberius in dissimulation; 
as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimu- 
latio, deserebant [His powers of body were gone, but his power of 
dissimulation still remained]. Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the 
stool; Vt puto deus fio [As I think, I am becoming a god]. Galba 
with a sentence; Peri, si ex re sit populi Romani [Strike, if it be for 
the good of Rome]; holding forth his neck. Septimius Severus in 
despatch; Adeste si quid mihi restat agendum [Be at hand, if there 
is anything more for me to do]. And the like. Certainly the Stoics 
bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations 
made it appear more fearful. Better saith he,7 qui fin em vitæ ex- 
tremum inter munera ponat naturæ [who accounts the close of life 
as one of the benefits of nature]. It is as natural to die as to be born; 
and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He 
that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot 
blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind 
fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolers of 
death. But, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, Nune 
dimittis [Now lettest thou . . . depart]; when a man hath obtained 
worthy ends and expectations. Death hath this also; that it openeth 
the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy. Extinetus amabitur 
idem [The same man that was envied while he lived, shall be loved 
when he is gone]. 


6 Fastidiousness. 7 Juvenal. 



OF UNITY IN RELIGION 


II 


III 


OF UNITY IN RELIGION 


RELIGION being the chief band of human society, it is a happy 
thing when itself is well contained within the true band of unity. 
The quarrels and divisions about religion were evils unknown to 
the heathen. The reason was because the religion of the heathen 
consisted rather in rites and ceremonies than in any constant belief. 
For you may imagine what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief 
doctors and fathers of their church were the poets. But the true 
God hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore his 
worship and religion will endure no mixture nor partner. We shall 
therefore speak a few words concerning the unity of the church; 
what are the fruits thereof; what the bounds; and what the means. 
The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing of God, which is 
all in all) are two: the one towards those that are without the 
church, the other towards those that are within. For the former; it 
is certain that heresies and schisms are of all others the greatest 
scandals; yea, more than corruption of manners. For as in the natu- 
ral body a wound or solution of continuity is worse than a corrupt 
humor; so in the spiritual. So that nothing doth so much keep men 
out of the church, and drive men out of the church, as breach of 
unity. And therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one 
saith Ecce in deserto [La! in the desert], another saith Ecce in pene- 
tralibui [La! in the sanctuary]; that is, when some men seek 
Christ in the conventicles of heretics, and others in an outward face 
of a church, that voice had need continually to sound in men's ears, 
Nolite exire;-Go not out. The doctor of the Gentiles 2 (the pro- 
priety of whose vocation drew him to have a special care of those 
without) saith, If an heathen come in, and hear you speak with 
several tongues, will he not say that you are mad? And certainly 
it is litùe better, when atheists and profane persons do hear of so 
many discordant and contrary opinions in religion; it doth avert 
them from the church, and maketh them to sit down in the chair of 
the scorners. It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious a 
1 Matthew xxiv. 26. 2 St. Paul. 



12 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
matter, but yet it expresseth well the deformity. There is a master 
of scoffing,3 that in his catalogue of books of a feigned library sets 
down this title of a book, The Morris-Dance of Heretics. For indeed 
every sect of them hath a diverse posture or cringe by themselves, 
which cannot but move derision in worldlings and depraved poli- 
tics; who are apt to contemn holy things. 
As for the fruit towards those that are within; it is peace; which 
containeth infinite blessings. It establisheth faith; it kindleth charity; 
the outward peace of the church distilleth into peace of conscience; 
and it turneth the labors of writing and reading of controversies 
into treaties 5 of mortification and devotion. 
Concerning the bounds of unity; the true placing of them im- 
porteth exceedingly. There appear to be two extremes. For to cer- 
tain zealants 6 all speech of pacification is odious. Is it peace, Jehu? 
W hat hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. 7 Peace is 
not the mauer, but following and party. Contrariwise, certain Lao- 
diceans and lukewarm persons think they may accommodate points 
of religion by middle ways, and taking part of both, and wiuy8 
reconcilements; as if they would make an arbitrament between God 
and man. Both these extremes are to be avoided; which will be done, 
if the league of Christians penned by our Savior himself were in 
the two cross clauses thereof soundly and plainly expounded: He 
that is not with us is against us; and again, He that is not against us 
is with us; that is, if the points fundamental and of substance in re- 
ligion were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely 
of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing may 
seem to many a matter trivial,9 and done already. But if it were 
done less partially, it would be embraced more generally. 
Of this I may give only this advice, according to my small model. 
Men ought to take heed of rending God's church by two kinds of 
controversies. The one is, when the matter of the point controverted 
is too small and light, not worth the heat and strife about it, kindled 
only by contradiction. For as it is noted by one of the fathers, 
Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture was of 
divers colors; whereupon he saith, In veste varietas sit, scissura non 
3 Rabelais. 4 Politicians. 5 Treatises. 6 Zealots. '1 2 Kings ix. 18, 19. 
8 Ingenious. 9 Commonplace. 



OF UNITY IN RELIGION 13 
sit lO [Let there be variety in the garment, but let there be no divi- 
sion]; they be two things, unity and uniformity. The other is, when 
the matter of the point controverted is great, but it is driven to an 
over-great subtilty and obscurity; so that it becometh a thing rather 
ingenious than substantial. A man that is of judgment and under- 
standing shall sometimes hear ignorant men differ, and know well 
within himself that those which so differ mean one thing, and yet 
they themselves would never agree. And if it come so to pass in that 
distance of judgment which is between man and man, shall we not 
think that God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that 
frail men in some of their contradictions intend the same thing; and 
accepteth of both? The nature of such controversies is excellently 
expressed by St. Paul in the warning and precept that he giveth con- 
cerning the same, Devita profanas vocum novitates, et oppositiones 
falsi nominis scÏentiæ [A void profane novelties of terms, and op- 
positions of science falsely so called]. Men create oppositions which 
are not; and put them into new terms so fixed, as whereas the mean- 
ing ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the mean- 
ing. There be also two false peaces or unities: the one, when the 
peace is grounded but upon an implicit ll ignorance; for all colors 
will agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct 
admission of contraries in fundamental points. For truth and false- 
hood, in such things, are like the iron and clay in the toes of Neb- 
uchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but they will not incorpo- 
rate. 
Concerning the means of procuring unity; men must beware, that 
in the procuring or muniting 12 of religious unity they do not dis- 
solve and deface the laws of charity and of human society. There 
be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual and temporal; and 
both have their due office and place in the maintenance of religion. 
But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's 
sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars or by 
sanguinary persecutions to force consciences; except it be in cases of 
overt scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice l3 against the 
state; much less to nourish seditions; to authorize conspiracies and 
rebellions; to put the sword into the people's hands; and the like; 
10 SL Augusúne. 11 Entangled. 12 Fortifying. 13 Plotting. 



14 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
tending to the subversion of all government, which is the ordinance 
of God. For this is but to dash the first table 14 against the second; 
and so to consider men as Christians, as we forget that they are 
men. Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, 
that could endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed: 
"Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum" 


[To such ill actions Religion could persuade a man]. What would 
he have said, if he had known of the massacre in France/ 5 or the 
powder treason of England? He would have been seven times more 
Epicure and atheist than he was. For as the temporal sword is to 
be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion; so it is a 
thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people. 
Let that be left unto the Anabaptists, and other furies. It was great 
blasphemy when the devil said, I will ascend and be like the High- 
est; but it is greater blasphemy to personate God, and bring him in 
saying, I will descend, and be like the prince of darkness: and what is 
better, to make the cause of religion to descend to the cruel and 
execrable actions of murthering princes, butchery of people, and sub- 
version of states and governments? Surely this is to bring down the 
Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the shape of a 
vulture or raven; and set out of the bark of a Christian church a flag 
of a bark of pirates and assassins. Therefore it is most necessary 
that the church by doctrine and decree, princes by their sword, and 
all learnings, both Christian and moral, as by their Mercury rod,16 
do damn and send to hell for ever those f acts 17 and opinions tending 
to the support of the same; as hath been already in good part done. 
Surely in counsels concerning religion, that counsel of the apostle 1S 
would be prefixed, Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei [The wrath 
of man worketh not the righteousness of God]. And it was a notable 
observation of a wise father, and no less ingenuously confessed; that 
those which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were com- 
monly interested therein themselves for their own ends. 
14 Of the commandments. Exodus xxxii. 15, 16; xxxiv. 1-5, 29. 15 On St. 
Bartholomew's Day, 1572. 16 With which Mercury summoned souls to the 
other world. 17 Deeds. IS St. James. 



OF REVENGE 


15 


IV 


OF REVENGE 


REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature 
runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first 
wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong 
putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is 
but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for 
it is a prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, saith, It is 
the glory of a man to pass by an offence. That which is past is gone, 
and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things pres- 
ent and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that 
labor in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's 
sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, 
or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving 
himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely 
out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which 
prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable 
sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; 
but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law 
to punish; else a man's enemy is still before hand, and it is two for 
one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should 
know whence it cometh. This is the more generous. For the delight 
seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party 
repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in 
the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against 
perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardon- 
able; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive 
our enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive 
our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we 
(saith he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil 
also? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man 
that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which other- 
wise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part 
fortunate; as that for the death of Cæsar; for the death of Pertinax; 
for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But 



16 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live 
the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infor- 
tunate. 


v 


OF ADVERSITY 


IT WAS a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), 
that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished; 
but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired. Bona 
rerum secundarum optabilia; adversarum mirabilia. Certainly if 
miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. 
It is yet a higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a 
heathen), It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and 
the security of a God. Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, 
securitatem Dei. This would have done better in poesy, where 
transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have 
been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing which figured in that 
strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without 
mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; 
that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom hu- 
man nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean in an 
earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that 
saileth in the frail bark of the flesh through the waves of the world. 
But to speak in a mean.. The virtue of prosperity is temperance; 
the virtue of adversity is fortitude; which in morals is the more 
heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; ad- 
versity is the blessing of the New; which carrieth the greater bene- 
diction, and the clearer revelation of God's favor. Yet even in the 
Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many 
hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath 
labored more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of 
Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and 
adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle- 
works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work 
upon a sad 2 and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melan- 
choly work upon a lightsome ground: judge therefore of the 
. In moderation. 2 Dark-colored. 



OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMULATION 17 
pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is 
like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or 
crushed: for prosperity doth best discover 3 vice, but adversity doth 
best discover virtue. 


VI 


OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMULATION 


DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of policy or wisdom; for it 
asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, 
and to do it. Therefore it is the weaker sort of politics that are the 
great dissemblers. 
Tacitus saith, Livia sorted well with th
 arts of her husband and 
dissimulation of her son; attributing arts or policy to Augustus, and 
dissimulation to Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus encourageth 
Vespa sian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, We rise not 
against the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution 
or closeness of Tiberius. These properties, of arts or policy and dis- 
simulation or closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several, and 
to be distinguished. For if a man have that penetration of judg- 
ment as he can discern what things are to be laid open, and what 
to be secreted, and what to be showed at half lights, and to whom 
and when (wþich indeed are arts of state and arts of life, as Tacitus 
well calleth them), to him a habit of dissimulation is a hinderance 
and a poorness. But if a man cannot obtain to that judgment, then 
it is left to him generally to be close, and a dissembler. For where 
a man cannot choose or vary in particulars, there it is good to take 
the safest and wariest way in general; like the going softly by one 
that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest men that ever were have 
had all an openness and frankness of dealing; and a name of cer- 
tainty and veracity; but then they were like horses well managed;1 
for they could tell passing well when to stop or turn; and at such 
times when they thought the case indeed required dissimulation, if 
then they used it, it came to pass that the former opinion spread 
abroad of their good faith and clearness of dealing made them almost 
invisible. 


a Display. 1 Trained. 



18 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self. 
The first, closeness, reservation, and secrecy; when a man leaveth 
himself without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he 
is. The second, dissimulation, in the negative; when a man lets fall 
signs and arguments, that he is not that he is. And the third, simu- 
lation, in the affirmative; when a man industriously and expressly 
feigns and pretends to be that he is not. 
For the first of these, secrecy; it is indeed the virtue of a con- 
fessor. And assuredly the secret man heareth many confessions. For 
who will open himself to a blab or a babbler? But if a man be 
thought secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more close air sucketh in 
the more open; and as in confession the revealing is not for worldly 
use, but for the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to the 
knowledge of many things in that kind; while men rather discharge 
their minds than impart their minds. In few words, mysteries are 
due to secrecy. Besides (to say truth) nakedness is uncomely, as well 
in mind as body; and it addeth no small reverence to men's manners 
and actions, if they be not altogether open. As for talkers and futile 2 
persons, they are commonly vain and credulous withal. For he that 
talketh what he knoweth, will also talk what he knoweth not. 
Therefore set it down, that an habit of secrecy is both politic and 
moral. And in this part it is good that a man's face give his tongue 
leave to speak. For the discovery of a man's self by the tracts 3 of 
his countenance is a great weakness and betraying; by how much it 
is many times more marked and believed than a man's words. 
For the second, which is dissimulation; it followeth many times 
upon secrecy by a necessity; so that he that will be secret must be 
a dissembler in some degree. F or men are too cunning to suffer a 
man to keep an indifferent carriage between both, and to be secret, 
without swaying the balance on either side. They will so beset a 
man with questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, that, 
without an absurd silence, he must show an inclination one way; or 
if he do not, they will gather as much by his silence as by his speech. 
As for equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they cannot hold out 
long. So that no man can be secret, except he give himself a little 
scope of dissimulation; which is, as it were, but the skirts or train 
of secrecy. 2 Babbling. 3 Lines, expression. 



OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN 19 
But for the third degree, which is simulation and false profes- 
sion; that I hold more culpable, and less politic; except it be in great 
and rare matters. And therefore a general custom of simulation 
(which is this last degree) is a vice, rising either of a natural false- 
ness or fearfulness, or of a mind that hath some main faults, which 
because a man must needs disguise, it maketh him practise simula- 
tion in other things, lest his hand should be out of ure.. 
The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. 
First, to lay asleep opposition, and to surprise. For where a man's 
intentions are published, it is an alarum to call up all that are 
against them. The second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair re- 
treat. For if a man engage himself by a manifest declaration, he 
must go through or take a fall. The third is, the better to discover 
the mind of another. For to him that opens himself men will hardly 
show themselves adverse; but will (fairS) let him go on, and turn 
their freedom of speech to freedom of thought. And therefore it is 
a good shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, Tell a lie and find a troth. 
As if there were no way of discovery but by simulation. There be 
also three disadvantages, to set it even. The first, that simulation 
and dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, 
which in any business doth spoil the feathers of round 6 flying up to 
the mark. The second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits 
of many, that perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him; and 
makes a man walk almost alone to his own ends. The third and 
greatest is, that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal in- 
struments for action; which is trust and belief. The best composition 
and temperature 7 is to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in 
habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if 
there be no remedy. 


VII 


OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN 


THE joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears. 
They cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other. Chil- 


4 Practise. 5 Rather. 6 Straight. 7 Combination of qualities, temperament. 



20 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


dren sweeten labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter. They 
increase the cares of life; but they mitigate the remembrance of 
death. The perpetuity by generation is common to beasts; but mem- 
ory, merit, and noble works are proper to men. And surely a man 
shall see the noblest works and foundations have proceeded from 
childless men; which have sought to express the images of their 
minds, where those of their bodies have failed. So the care of pos- 
terity is most in them that have no posterity. They that are the first 
raisers of their houses are most indulgent towards their children; 
beholding them as the continuance not only of their kind but of 
their work; and so both children and creatures. 
The difference in affection of parents towards their several chil- 
dren is many times unequal; and sometimes unworthy; especially 
in the mother; as Solomon saith, A wise son rejoiceth the father, but 
an ungracious son shames the mother. A man shall see, where there 
is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, and 
the youngest made wantons;l but in the midst some that are as it 
were forgotten, who many times nevertheless prove the best. The 
illiberality of parents in allowance towards their children is an harm- 
ful error; makes them base; acquaints them with shifts; makes them 
sort 2 with mean company; and makes them surfeit more when they 
come to plenty. And therefore the proof is best, when men keep 
their authority towards their children, but not their purse. Men 
have a foolish manner (both parents and schoolmasters and serv- 
ants) in creating and breeding an emulation between brothers dur- 
ing childhood, which many times sorteth 3 to discord when they 
are men, and disturbeth families. The Italians make little differ- 
ence between children and nephews or near kinsfolks; but so they 
be of the lump, they care not though they pass not through their 
own body. And, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter; in- 
somuch that we see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle or a 
kinsman more than his own parent; as the blood happens. Let par- 
ents choose betimes the vocations and courses they mean their chil- 
dren should take; for then they are most flexible; and let them not 
too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as 
thinking they will take best to that which they have most mind to. 
I Spoiled. 2 Associate. 3 Turns out. 



OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE LIFE 2 I 
It is true, that if the affection or aptness of the children be extraor- 
dinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is 
good, optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo [choose 
the best-custom will make it pleasant and easy ]. Younger brothers 
are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are 
disinherited. 


VIII 


OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE LIFE 


HE that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; 
for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mis- 
chief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public,. 
have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in 
affection and means have married and endowed the public. Yet it 
were great reason that those that have children should have great- 
est care of future times; unto which they know they must transmit 
their dearest pledges. Some there are, who though they lead a sin- 
gle life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account fu- 
ture times impertinences. 1 Nay, there are some other that account 
wife and children but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some 
foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no children, 
because they may be thought so much the richer. For perhaps they 
have heard some talk, Such an one is a great rich man, and another 
except to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of children; as if it were 
an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a single 
life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous 2 minds, 
which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think 
their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men 
are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best sub- 
jects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives are 
of that condition. A single life doth well with churchmen; for 
charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. 
It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and 
corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife. For 
soldiers, I find the generals commonly in their hortatives put men in 
mind of their wives and children; and I think the despising of mar.. 
I Not their affair. 2 Capricious. 



22 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
riage amongst the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more base. Cer- 
tainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and 
single men, though they may be many times more charitable, be- 
cause their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are 
more cruel and hardhearted (good to make severe inquisitors), be- 
cause their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led 
by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, 
as was said of Ulysses, vetulam suam prætulit immortalitati [he pre- 
ferred his old wife to immortality]. Chaste women are often proud 
and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is 
one of the best bonds both of chastity and obedience in the wife, if 
she think her husband wise; which she will never do if she find him 
jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses; companions for middle 
age; and old men's nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel 3 to marry 
when he will. But yet he" was reputed one of the wise men, that 
made answer to the question, when a man should marry,-A young 
man not yet, an elder man not at all. It is often seen that bad hus- 
bands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price 
of their husband's kindness when it comes; or that the wives take 
a pride in their patience. But this never fails, if the bad husbands 
were of their own choosing, against their friends' consent; for then 
they will be sure to make good their own folly. 


IX 


OF ENVY 


THERE be none of the affections which have been noted to fasci- 
nate or bewitch, but love and envy. They both have vehement 
wishes; they frame themselves readily into imaginations and sug- 
gestions; and they come easily into the eye, especially upon the 
presence of the objects; which are the points that conduce to fasci- 
nation, if any such thing there be. We see likewise the Scripture 
calleth envy an evil eye; and the astrologers call the evil influences 
of the stars evil aspects; so that still there seemeth to be acknowl- 
edged, in the act of envy, an ejaculation l or irradiation of the eye. 
Nay some have been so curious as to note that the times when the 
3 Pretext. 4 Thales. 1 Darting out. 



OF ENVY 23 
stroke or percussion of an envious eye doth most hurt are when the 
party envied is beheld in glory or triumph; for that sets an edge 
upon envy: and besides, at such times the spirits of the person envied 
do come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet the blow. 
But leaving these curiosities (though not unworthy to be thought 
on in fit place), we will handle, what persons are apt to envy others; 
what persons are most subject to be envied themselves; and what is 
the difference between public and private envy. 
A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. 
For men's minds will either feed upon their own good or upon 
others' evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other; and 
whoso is out of hope to attain to another's virtue, will seek to come 
at even hand by depressing another's fortune. 
A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly envious. For to 
know much of other men's matters cannot be because all that ado 
may concern his own estate; therefore it must needs be that he taketh 
a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the fortunes of others. 
Neither can he that mindeth but his own business find much matter 
for envy. For envy is a gadding passion, and walketh the streets, 
and doth not keep home: Non est curiosus, quin idem sit malet/olus 
[There is no curious man but has some malevolence to quicken his 
curiosity] . 
Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men 
when they rise. For the distance is altered, and it is like a deceit of 
the eye, that when others come on they think themselves go back. 
Deformed persons, and eunuchs, and old men, and bastards, are 
envious. For he that cannot possibly mend his own case will do 
what, he can to impair another's; except these defects light upon a 
very brave and heroical nature, which thinketh to make his natural 
wants part of his honor; in that it should be said, that an eunuch, or 
a lame man, did such great matters; affecting the honor of a miracle; 
as it was in Narses the eunuch, and Agesilaus and Tamberlanes, that 
were lame men. 
The same is the case of men that rise 
fter calamities and mis- 
fortunes. For they are as men fallen out with the times; and think 
other men's harms a redemption of their own sufferings. 
They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and 



24 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
vain glory, are ever envious. For they cannot want work; it being 
impossible but many in some one of those things should surpass 
them. Which was the character of Adrian the Emperor; that mor- 
tally envied poets and painters and artificers, in works wherein he 
had a vein to excel. 
Lastly, near kinsfolks, and fellows in office, and those that have 
been bred together, are more apt to envy their equals when they are 
raised. For it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and 
pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and 
incurreth Z likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever re- 
doubleth from speech and fame. Cain's envy was the more vile and 
malignant towards his brother Abel, because when his sacrifice was 
better accepted there was no body to look on. Thus much for those 
that are apt to envy. 
Concerning those that are more or less subject to envy: First, 
persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less envied. 
For their fortune seemeth but due unto them; and no man envieth 
the payment of a debt, but rewards and liberality rather. Again, envy 
is ever joined with the comparing of a man's self; and where there 
is no comparison, no envy; and therefore kings are not envied but 
by kings. Nevertheless it is to be noted that unworthy persons are 
most envied at their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it 
better; whereas contrariwise, persons of worth and merit are most 
envied when their fortune continueth long. For by that time, though 
their virtue be the same, yet it hath not the same lustre; for fresh 
men grow up that darken it. 
Persons of noble blood are less envied in their rising. For it seem- 
eth but right done to their birth. Besides, there seemeth not much 
added to their fortune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat hotter 
upon a bank or steep rising ground, than upon a flat. And for the 
same reason those that are advanced by degrees are less envied than 
those that are advanced suddenly and per sa/turn [at a bound]. 
Those that have joined with their honor great travels,3 cares, or 
perils, are less subject to envy. For men think that they earn their 
honors hardly, and pity them sometimes; and pity ever healeth envy. 
Wherefore you shall observe that the more deep and sober sort of 
2 Runneth into. 3 Travails. labors. 



OF ENVY 25 
politic persons,' in their greatness, are ever bemoaning themselves, 
what a life they lead; chanting a quanta patimur [how great things 
do we suffer!]. Not that they feel it so, but only to abate the edge 
of envy. But this is to be understood of business that is laid upon 
men, and not such as they call unto themselves. For nothing in- 
creaseth envy more than an unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of 
business. And nothing doth extinguish envy more than for a great 
person to preserve all other inferior officers in their full rights and 
pre-eminences of their places. For by that means there be so many 
screens between him and envy. 
Above all, those are most subject to envy, which carry the great- 
ness of their fortunes in an insolent and proud manner; being never 
well but while they are showing how great they are, either by out- 
ward pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or competition; 
whereas wise men will rather do sacrifice to envy, in suffering them- 
selves sometimes of purpose to be crossed and overborne in things 
that do not much concern them. Notwithstanding, so much is true, 
that the carriage of greatness in a plain and open manner (so it be 
without arrogancy and vain glory) doth draw less envy than if it 
be in a more crafty and cunning fashion. For in that course a man 
doth but disavow fortune; and seemeth to be conscious of his own 
want in worth; and doth but teach others to envy him. 
Lastly, to conclude this part; as we said in the beginning that the 
act of envy had somewhat in it of witchcraft, so there is no other 
cure of envy but the cure of witchcraft; and that is, to remove the 
lot 5 (as they call it) and to lay it upon another. For which purpose, 
the wiser sort of great persons bring in ever upon the stage somebody 
upon whom to derive 6 the envy that would come upon themselves; 
sometimes upon ministers and servants; sometimes upon colleagues 
and associates; and the like; and for that turn there are never want- 
ing some persons of violent and undertaking natures, who, so they 
may have power and business, will take it at any cost. 
Now, to speak of public envy. There is yet some good in public 
envy, whereas in private there is none. For public envy is as an 
ostracism, that eclipseth men when they grow too great. And there- 
fore it is a bridle also to great ones, to keep them within bounds. 
4 Politicians. 5 Spell. 6 Divert. 



26 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


This envy, being in the Latin word invidia, goeth in the modern 
languages by the name of discontentment; of which we shall speak 
in handling sedition. It is a disease in a state like to infection. For 
as infection spreadeth upon that which is sound, and tainteth it; 
so when envy is gotten once into a state, it traduceth even the best 
actions thereof, and turneth them into an ill odor. And therefore 
there is little won by intermingling of plausible 7 actions. F or that 
doth argue but a weakness and fear of envy, which hurteth so much 
the more, as it is likewise usual in infections; which if you fear 
them, you call them upon you. 
This public envy seemeth to beat chiefly upon principal officers 
or ministers, rather than upon kings and estates themselves. But 
this is a sure rule, that if the envy upon the minister be great, when 
the cause of it in him is small; or if the envy be general in a manner 
upon all the ministers of an estate; then the envy (though hidden) 
is truly upon the state itself. And so much of public envy or dis- 
contentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which 
was handled in the first place. 
We will add this in general, touching the affection of envy; that 
of all other affections it is the most importune and continual. For of 
other affections there is occasion given but now and then; and there- 
fore it was well said, Invidia festos dies non agit [Envy keeps no 
holidays]: for it is ever working upon some or other. And it is also 
noted that love and envy do make a man pine, which other affec- 
tions do not, because they are not so continual. It is also the vilest 
affection, and the most depraved; for which cause it is the proper 
attribute of the devil, who is called the envious man, that soweth 
tares amongst the wheat by night; as it always cometh to pass, that 
envy worketh subtilly, and in the dark, and to the prejudice of good 
things, such as is the wheat. 


x 


OF LOVE 


THE stage is more beholding to love, than the life of man. For 
as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of 
7 Praiseworthy. 



OF LOVE 27 
tragedies; but in life it cloth much mischief; sometimes like a siren, 
sometimes like a fury. You may observe that amongst all the great 
and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient 
or recent) there is not one that hath been transported to the mad 
degree of love: which shows that great spirits and great business do 
keep out this weak passion. You must except nevertheless Marcus 
Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius 
Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver; whereof the former was indeed 
a voluptuous man, and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and 
wise man: and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find 
entrance not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well 
fortified, if watch be not well kept. It is a poor saying of Epicurus, 
Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus [Each is to another a 
theatre large enough]; as if man, made for the contemplation of 
heaven and all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel before a 
little idol, and make himself a subject, though not of the mouth (as 
beasts are), yet of the eye; which was given him for higher purposes. 
It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, and how it 
braves the nature and value of things, by this; that the speaking 
in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love. Neither 
is it merely in the phrase; for whereas it hath been well said that 
the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, 
is a man's self; certainly the lover is more. For there was never 
proud man thought so absurdly well of himself as the lover doth of 
the person loved; and therefore it was well said, That it is impossible 
to love and to be wise. Neither doth this weakness appear to others 
only, and not to the party loved; but to the loved most of all, except 
the love be reciproque. 1 For it is a true rule, that love is ever rewarded 
either with the reciproque or with an inward and secret contempt. 
By how much the more men ought to beware of this passion, which 
loseth not only other things, but itself! As for the other losses, 
the poet's relation doth well figure them: that he that preferred 
Helena quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteem- 
eth too much of amorous affection quitteth both riches and wisdom. 
This passion hath his floods in very times of weakness; which are 
great prosperity and great adversity; though this latter hath been less 
1 Mutual. 



28 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


observed: both which times kindle love, and make it more fervent, 
and therefore show it to be the child of folly. They do best, who 
if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter;Z and sever 
it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life; for if it check 3 
once with business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men 
that they can no ways be true to their own ends. I know not how, 
but martial men are given to love: I think it is but as they are given 
to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures. There is 
in man's nature a secret inclination and motion towards love of 
others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth natu- 
rally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane 
and charitable; as it is seen sometime in friars. Nuptial love maketh 
mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth 
and embaseth it. 


XI 


OF GREAT PLACE 


MEN in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign 
or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. So as they have 
no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in 
their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: 
or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man's self. The 
rising unto place is laborious; and by pains men come to greater 
pains; and it is sometimes base; and by indignities men come to 
dignities. The standing is slippery, and the regress is either a down- 
fall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing. Cum non 
sis qui fueris, non esse cur ve/is vivere [When a man feels that he 
is no longer what he was, he has no reason to live longer]. Nay, 
retire men cannot when they would, neither will they when it were 
reason; but are impatient of privateness, even in age and sickness, 
which require the shadow; like old townsmen, that will be still 
sitting at their street door, though thereby they offer age to scorn. 
Certainly great persons had need to borrow other men's opinions, 
to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling, 
they cannot find it; but if they think with themselves what other men 
think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then 
Z Its own place. 3 Interfere. 



OF GREAT PLACE 29 
they are happy as it were by report; when perhaps they find the con- 
trary within. For they are the first that find their own griefs, though 
they be the last that find their own faults. Certainly men in great 
fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle 
of business they have no time to tend their health either of body or 
mind. Illi mors gravis incubat. qui notus nimis omnibus. ignotus 
moritur sibi [It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to every- 
body else, and still unknown to himself]. In place there is license to 
do good and evil; whereof the latter is a curse: for in evil the best 
condition is not to will; the second, not to can. But power to do 
good is the true and lawful end of aspiring. For good thoughts 
(though God accept them) yet towards men are little better than 
good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without 
power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground. Merit 
and good works is the end of man's motion; and conscience of 
the same is the accomplishment of man's rest. For if a man can be 
partaker of God's theatre/ he shall likewise be partaker of God's 
rest. Et conversus Deus. ut aspiceret opera quæ fecerunt manus suæ. 
vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis [And God turned to look upon 
the works which his hands had made, and saw that all were very 
good] ; and then the sabbath. In the discharge of thy place set before 
thee the best examples; for imitation is a globe Z of precepts. And 
after a time set before thee thine own example; and examine thy- 
self strictly whether thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the 
examples of those that have carried themselves ill in the same place; 
not to set off thyself by taxing 3 their memory, but to direct thyself what 
to avoid. Reform therefore, without bravery4 or scandal of former 
times and persons; but yet set it down to thyself as well to create 
good precedents as to follow them. Reduce things to the first institu- 
tion, and observe wherein and how they have degenerate; but yet 
ask counsel of both times; of the ancient time, what is best; and of 
the latter time, what is fittest. Seek to make thy course regular, that 
men may know beforehand what they may expect; but be not too 
positive and peremptory; and express thyself well when thou digress- 
est from thy rule. Preserve the right of thy place; but stir not 
questions of jurisdiction; and rather assume thy right in silence and 
1 What God saw. Z Complete body. 3 Censuring. 4 Boastfulness. 



30 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
de facto [from the fact], than voice it with claims and challenges. 
Preserve likewise the rights of inferior places; and think it more 
honor to direct in chief than to be busy in all. Embrace and invite 
helps and advices touching the execution of thy place; and do not 
drive away such as bring thee information, as meddlers; but accept 
of them in good part. The vices of authority are chiefly four: delays, 
corruption, roughness, and facility.5 For delays: give easy access; 
keep times appointed; go through with that which is in hand, and 
interlace not business but of necessity. For corruption: do not only 
bind thine own hands or thy servants' hands from taking, but bind 
the hands of suitors also from offering. For integrity used doth the 
one; but integrity professed, and with a manifest detestation of brib- 
ery, doth the other. And avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. 
Whosoever is found variable, and changeth manifestly without mani- 
fest cause, giveth .suspicion of corruption. Therefore always when 
thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly, and declare 
it, together with the reasons that move thee to change; and do not 
think to steal 6 it. A servant or a favorite, if he be inward, and no 
other apparent cause of esteem, is commonly thought but a by-way to 
close 7 corruption. For roughness: it is a needless cause of discon- 
tent: severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate. Even re- 
proofs from authority ought to be grave, and not taunting. As for 
facility:5 it is worse than bribery . For bribes come but now and 
then; but if importunity or idle respects 8 lead a man, he shall never 
be without. As Solomon saith, To respect persons is not good; for 
such a man will transgress for a piece of bread. It is most true that 
was anciently spoken, A place showeth the man. And it showeth 
some to the better, and some to the worse. Omnium consensu capax 
imperii, nisi imperasset [A man whom every body would have 
thought fit for empire if he had not been emperor], saith Tacitus of 
Galba; but of Vespa sian he saith, Salus imperantium, Vespasianus 
mutatus in melius [He was the only emperor whom the possession 
of power changed for the better]; though the one was meant of 
sufficiency, the other of manners and affection. It is an assured sign 
of a worthy and generous spirit, whom honor amends. For honor 
5 Being easily led. 6 Do secretly. 7 Secret. 8 Considerations. 



OF BOLDNESS 3 I 
is, or should be, the place of virtue; and as in nature things move 
violently to their place and calmly in their place, so virtue in am- 
bition is violent, in authority settled and calm. All rising to great 
place is by a winding stair; and if there be factions, it is good to side 
a man's self whilst he is in the rising, and to balance himself when 
he is placed. Use the memory of thy predecessor fairly and tenderly; 
for if thou dost not, it is a debt will sure be paid when thou art 
gone. If thou have colleagues, respect them, and rather call them 
when they look not for it, than exclude them when they have reason 
to look to be called. Be not too sensible or too remembering of thy 
place in conversation and private answers to suitors; but let it rather 
be said, When he sits in place he is another man. 


XII 


OF BOLDNESS 


IT is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man's 
consideration. Question was asked of Demosthenes, what was the 
chief part of an orator? he answered, action; what next? action; 
what next again? action. He said it that knew it best, and had by 
nature himself no advantage in that he commended. A strange thing, 
that that part of an orator which is but superficial, and rather the 
virtue of a player, should be placed so high, above those other noble 
parts of invention, elocution, and the rest; nay almost alone, as if it 
were all in all. But the reason is plain. There is in human nature 
generally more of the fool than of the wise; and therefore those 
faculties by which the foolish part of men's minds is taken are most 
potent. W onderfullike is the case of boldness in civil business: what 
first? boldness; what second and third? boldness. And yet bold- 
ness is a child of ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts. 
But nevertheless it doth fascinate and bind hand and foot those 
that are either shallow in judgment or weak in courage, which are 
the greatest part; yea and prevaileth with wise men at weak times. 
Therefore we see it hath done wonders in popular states; but with 
senates and princes less; and more ever upon the first entrance of 
bold persons into action than soon after; for boldness is an ill keeper 



32 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
of promise. Surely as there are mountebanks 1 for the natural body, so 
are there mountebanks for the politic body; men that undertake great 
cures, and perhaps have been lucky in two or three experiments, but 
want the grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out. Nay, you 
shall see a bold fellow many times do Mahomet's miracle. Mahomet 
made the people believe that he would call an hill to him, and from 
the top of it offer up his prayers, for the observers of his law. The 
people assembled; Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again 
and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, 
but said, If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to 
the hill. So these men, when they have promised great matters and 
failed most shamefully, yet (if they have the perfection of boldness) 
they will but slight it over, and make a turn, and no more ado. Cer
 
tainly to men of great judgment, bold persons are a sport to behold; 
nay and to the vulgar also, boldness has somewhat of the ridiculous. 
For if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not but great 
boldness is seldom without some absurdity. Especially it is a sport 
to see, when a bold fellow is out of countenance; for that puts his 
face into a most shrunken and wooden posture; as needs it must; for 
in bashfulness the spirits do a little go and come; but with bold men, 
upon like occasion, they stand at a stay; like a stale at chess, where 
it is no mate, but yet the game cannot stir. But this last were fitter 
for a satire than for a serious observation. This is well to be weighed; 
that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveni
 
ences. Therefore it is ill in counsel, good in execution; so that the 
right use of bold persons is, that they never command in chief, but 
be seconds, and under the direction of others. For in counsel it is 
good to see dangers; and in execution not to see them, except they 
be very great. 


XIII 


OF GOODNESS AND GOODNESS OF NATURE 


I TAKE goodness in this sense, the affecting of the weal of men, 
which is that the Grecians call philanthropia; and the word human
 
ity (as it is used) is a little too light to express it. Goodness I call 
1 Quacks. 



OF GOODNESS AND GOODNESS OF NATURE 33 
the habit, and goodness of nature the inclination. This of all vir- 
tues and dignities of the mind is the greatest; being the character of 
the Deity: and without it man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing; 
no better than a kind of vermin. Goodness answers to the theological 
virtue charity, and admits no excess, but error. The desire of power 
in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess 
caused man to fall: but in charity there is no excess; neither can 
angel nor man come in danger by it. The inclination to goodness is 
imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch that if it issue not 
towards men, it will take unto other living creatures; as it is seen 
in the Turks, a cruel people, who nevertheless are kind to beasts, 
and give alms to dogs and birds; insomuch as Busbechius reporteth, 
a Christian boy in Constantinople had like to have been stoned for 
gagging in a waggishness a long-billed fowl. Errors indeed in this 
virtue of goodness or charity may be committed. The Italians have 
an ungracious proverb, Tanto buon che val niente [So good, that 
he is good for nothing]. And one of the doctors of Italy, Nicholas 
Machia vel, had the confidence to put in writing, almost in plain 
terms, That the Christian faith had given up good men in prey to 
those that are tyrannical and unjust. Which he spake, because indeed 
there was never law or sect or opinion did so much magnify good- 
ness as the Christian religion doth. Therefore, to a void the scandaJ 
and the danger both, it is good to take knowledge of the errors of 
an habit so excellent. Seek the good of other men, but be not in 
bondage to their faces or fancies; for that is but facility or softness; 
which taketh an honest mind prisoner. Neither give thou Æsop's 
cock a gem, who would be better pleased and happier if he had had 
a barley-corn. The example of God teacheth the lesson truly: He 
sendeth his rain and maketh his sun to shine upon the just and un- 
just; but he doth not rain wealth nor shine honor and virtues, upon 
men equally. Common benefits are to be communicate with all; but 
peculiar benefits with choice. And beware how in making the 
portraiture thou breakest the pattern. For divinity maketh the love 
of ourselves the pattern; the love of our neighbors but the por- 
traiture. Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me: 
but sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me; that is, 
except thou have a vocation wherein thou mayest do as much good 



34 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


with little means as with great; for otherwise in feeding the streams 
thou driest the fountain. Neither is there only a habit of goodness, 
directed by right reason; but there is in some men, even in nature, 
a disposition towards it; as on the other side there is a natural 
malignity. For there be that in their nature do not affect the good 
of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth but to a crossness, 
or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficilness/ or the like; but 
the deeper sort to envy and mere mischief. Such men in other men's 
calamities are, as it were, in season, and are ever on the loading part: 
not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus' sores; but like flies 
that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw; misanthropi [haters 
of men], that make it their practice to bring men to the bough,2 and 
yet never a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had. 
Such dispositions are the very errors of human nature; and yet they 
are the fittest timber to make great politics of; like to knee timber, 
that is good for ships, that are ordained to be tossed; but not for 
building houses, that shall stand firm. The parts and signs of good- 
ness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it 
shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island 
cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. If he be 
compassionate towards the affiictions of others, it shows that his heart 
is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm. 
If he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is 
planted above injuries; so that he cannot be shot. If he be thank- 
ful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs men's minds, and not 
their trash. But above all, if he have St. Paul's perfection, that he 
would wish to be anathema 3 from Christ for the salvation of his 
brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of con- 
formity wi!h Christ himself. 


XIV 


OF NOBILITY 


WE will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate/ then as 
a condition of particular persons. A monarchy where there is no 
1 Moroseness. 2 To hang themselves. 3 Accused. 1 State. 



OF NOBILITY 35 
nobility at all is ever a pure and absolute tyranny; as that of the 
Turks. For nobility attempers sovereignty, and draws the eyes of the 
people somewhat aside from the line royal. But for democracies, 
they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet and less sub. 
ject to sedition, than where there are stirps2 of nobles. For men's 
eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons; or if upon the 
persons, it is for the business' sake, as fittest, and not for flags and 
pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their di- 
versity of religion and of cantons. For utility is their bond, and not 
respects. 3 The united provinces of the Low Countries in their gov- 
ernment excel; for where there is an equality, the consultations are 
more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful. A 
great and potent nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but dim in- 
isheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth 
their fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty 
nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency 
of inferiors may be broken upon them before it come on too fast 
upon the majesty of kings. A numerous nobility causeth poverty 
and inconvenience in a state; for it is a surcharge 4 of expense; and 
besides, it being of necessity that many of the nobility fall in time 
to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between 
honor and means. 
As for nobility in particular persons; it is a reverend thing to see 
an ancient castle or building not in decay; or to see a fair timber tree 
sound and perfect. How much more to behold an ancient noble 
family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time! 
For new nobility is but the act of power, but ancient nobility is the 
act of time. Those that are first raised to nobility are commonly 
more virtuous,5 but less innocent, than their descendants; for there 
is rarely any rising but by a commixture of good and evil arts. But 
it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity, 
and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly 
abateth industry; and he that is not industrious, envieth him that is. 
Besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that standeth 
at a stay when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On 
the other side, nobility extinguisheth the passive envy from others 
2 Families. 3 Considerations of rank. 4. Excess. :; Able. 



3 6 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


towards them; because they are in possession of honor. Certainly, 
kings that have able men of their nobility shall find ease in employ- 
ing them, and a better slide into their business; for people naturally 
bend to them, as born in some sort to command. 


xv 


OF SEDITIONS AND TROUBLES 


SHEPHERDS of people had need know the calendars 1 of tempests in 
state; which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; 
as natural tempests are greatest about the Equinoctia. And as there 
are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret swellings of seas before 
a tempest, so are there in states: 
- Ille etiam cæcos instare tumultus 
Sæpe monet, fraudesque et operta tumescere bella. 
[Of troubles imminent and treasons dark 
Thence warning comes, and wars in secret gathering. Virgil] 
Libels and licentious discourses against the state, when they are fre- 
quent and open; and in like sort, false news often running up and 
down to the disadvantage of the state, and hastily embraced; are 
amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame, 
saith she was sister to the Ciants: 


IllaID Terra parens, irâ irritata deorum, 
Extremam (ut perhibent) Cæo Enceladoque sororem 
Progenuit. 
[Her, Parent Earth, furious with the anger of the gods, brought 
forth, the youngest sister (as they affirm) of Cæus and Enceladus.] 
As if fames 2 were the relics of seditions past; but they are no less 
indeed the preludes of seditions to come. Howsoever he noteth it 
right, that seditious tumults and seditious fames differ no more but 
as brother and sister, masculine and feminine; especially if it come 
to that, that the best actions of a state, and the most plausible, and 
which ought to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, and 
traduced: for that shows the envy great, as Tacitus saith; conf/ata 
1 Weather predictions. 2 Rumors. 



OF SEDITIONS AND TROUBLES 


37 


magna invidia, seu bene seu male gesta premunt [when dislike pre- 
vails against the government, good actions and bad offend alike]. 
Neither doth it follow, that because these fames are a sign of 
troubles that the suppressing of them with too much severity should 
be a remedy of troubles. For the despising of them many times 
checks them best; and the going about to stop them doth but make 
a wonder long-lived. Also that kind of obedience which Tacitus 
speaketh of, is to be held suspected: Erant in officio, sed tamen qui 
mal/ent mandata imperantium interpretari quam exequi [Ready to 
serve, and yet more disposed to construe commands than execute 
them]; disputing, excusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, 
is a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay of disobedience; 
especially if in those disputings they which are for the direc- 
tion speak fearfully and tenderly, and those that are against it 
audaciously. 
Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be 
common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, it 
is as a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side; 
as was well seen in the time of Henry the Third of France; for first 
himself entered league for the extirpation of the Protestants; and 
presently after the same league was turned upon himself. For when 
the authority of princes is made but an accessory to a cause, and that 
there be other bands that tie faster than the band of sovereignty, 
kings begin to be put almost out of possession. 
Also, when discords, and quarrels, and factions are carried openly 
and audaciously, it is a sign the reverence of government is lost. For 
the motions of the greatest persons in a government ought to be as 
the motions of the planets under primum mobile;3 (according to the 
old opinion), which is, that every of them is carried swiftly by the 
highest motion, and softly in their own motion. And therefore, 
when great ones in their own particular motion move violently, and, 
as Tacitus expresseth it well, liberius quam tit imperantium me- 
minissent [unrestrained by reverence for the government], it is a 
sign the orbs are out of frame. For reverence is that wherewith 


3 In the old astronomy, the primttm mobile (first moving) was the outer sphere, 
whose motion from east to west dominated the motions of the inner spheres of the 
planets. 



3 8 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


princes are girt from God; who threateneth the dissolving thereof; 
Solvam cingula regum [I will unbind the girdles of kings]. 
So when any of the four pillars of government are mainly shaken 
or weakened (which are religion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men 
had need to pray for fair weather. But let us pass from this part of 
predictions (concerning which, nevertheless, more light may be taken 
from that which followeth); and let us speak first of the mate- 
rials of seditions; then of the motives of them; and thirdly of the 
remedies. 
Concerning the materials of seditions. It is a thing well to be 
considered; for the surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do 
bear it) is to take away the matter of them. For if there be fuel 
prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set 
it on fire. The matter of seditions is of two kinds: much poverty 
and much discontentment. It is certain, so many overthrown estates, 
so many votes for troubles. Lucan noteth well the state of Rome 
before the Civil War, 


Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore fænus, 
Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum. 


[Hence estates eaten up by usurious rates of interest, and interest 
greedy of time, hence credit shaken, and war a gain to many.] 
This same multis utile bel/um is an assured and infallible sign of 
a state disposed to seditions and troubles. And if this poverty and 
broken estate in the better sort be joined with a want and necessity 
in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great. For the rebel- 
lions of the belly" are the worst. As for discontentments, they are 
in the politic body like to humors in the natural, which are apt to 
gather a preternatural heat and to inflame. And let no prince measure 
the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust: for that 
were to imagine people to be too reasonable; who do often spurn 
at their own good: nor yet by this, whether the griefs whereupon 
they rise be in fact great or small: for they are the most dangerous 
discontentments where the fear is greater than the feeling. Dol
ndi 
modus, timendi non item [Suffering has its limit, but fears are end- 
less]. Besides, in great oppressions, the same things that provoke the 
"From hun
er. 



OF SEDITIONS AND TROUBLES 


39 


patience, do withal mateS the courage; but in fears it is not so. 
Neither let any prince or state be secure 6 concerning discontentments", 
because they have been often, or have been long, and yet no peril 
hath ensued: for as it is true that every vapor or fume doth not 
turn into a storm; so it is nevertheless true that storms, though they 
blow over divers times, yet may fall at last; and, as the Spanish prov- 
erb noteth well, The cord breaketh at the last by the weakest pull. 
The causes and motives of seditions are, innovation in religion; 
taxes; alteration of laws and customs; breaking of privileges; gen- 
eral oppression; advancement of unworthy persons; strangers; 
dearths; disbanded soldiers; factions grown desperate; and whatso- 
ever, in offending people, joineth and knitteth them in a common 
cause. 
For the remedies; there may be some general preservatives, 
whereof we will speak: as for the just cure, it must answer to the 
particular disease; and so be left to counsel rather than rule. 
The first remedy or prevention is to remove by all means possible 
that material cause of sedition whereof we spake; which is, want 
and poverty in the estate. To which purpose serveth the opening 
and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of manufactures; the 
banishing of idleness; the repressing of waste and excess by sumptu- 
ary 7 laws; the improvement and husbanding of the soil; the regulat- 
ing of prices of things vendible; the moderating of taxes and trib- 
utes; and the like. Generally, it is to be foreseen 8 that the population 
of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by wars) do not 
exceed the stock of the kingdom which should maintain them. 
Neither is the population to be reckoned only by number; for a 
smaller number that spend more and earn less do wear out an 
estate sooner than a greater number that live lower and gather more. 
Therefore the multiplying of nobility and other degrees of quality 
in an over proportion to the common people doth speedily bring a 
state to necessity; and so doth likewise an overgrown clergy; for 
they bring nothing to the stock; and in like manner, when more 
are bred scholars than preferments can take off. 
It is likewise to be remembered, that forasmuch as the increase of 


s Confound. 6 Free from care. 7 Against extravagance. 
S Guarded against beforehand. 



40 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
any estate must be upon the foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere 
gotten is somewhere lost), there be but three things which one nation 
selleth unto another; the commodity as nature yielded it; the manu- 
facture; and the vecture, or carriage. So that if these three wheels 
go, wealth will flow as in a spring tide. And it cometh many times 
to pass, that materiam superabit opus; that the work and carriage is 
more worth than the material, and enricheth a state more; as is 
notably seen in the Low-Countrymen, who have the best mines 
above ground in the world. 
Above all things, good policy is to be used that the treasure and 
moneys in a state be not gathered into few hands. For otherwise 
a state may have a great stock, and yet starve. And money is like 
muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppress- 
ing or at least keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of 
usury, ingrossing 9 great pasturages, and the like. 
For removing discontentments, or at least the danger of them; 
there is in every state (as we know) two portions of subjects; the 
noblesse and the commonalty. When one of these is discontent, 
the danger is not great; for common people are of slow motion, 
if they be not excited by the greater sort; and the greater sort are 
of small strength, except the multitude be apt and ready to move of 
themselves. Then is the danger, when the greater sort do but wait 
for the troubling of the waters amongst the meaner, that then they 
may declare themselves. The poets feign that the rest of the gods 
would have bound Jupiter; which he hearing of, by the counsel of 
Pallas, sent for Briareus, with his hundred hands, to come in to his 
aid. An emblem, no doubt, to show how safe it is for monarchs to 
make sure of the good will of common people. To give moderate 
liberty for griefs and discontentments to evaporate (so it be without 
too great insolency or bravery), is a safe way. For he that turneth 
the humors back, and maketh the wound bleed inwards, endanger- 
eth malign ulcers and pernicious imposthumations. 10 
The part of Epimetheus ll mought well become Prometheus lZ in 
the case of discontentments: for there is not a better provision against 
them. Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut 
the lid, and kept hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly, the 
9 "Cornering. II 10 Abscesses. 11 Afterthought. 12 Forethought. 



Oil SEDITIONS AND TROUBLES 4 1 
politic and artificial nourishing and entertaining of hopes, and carry- 
ing men from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against 
the poison of discontentments. And it is a certain sign of a wise 
government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by 
hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction; and when it can handle things 
in such manner, as no evil shall appear so peremptory but that it 
hath some outlet of hope; which is the less hard to do, because both 
particular persons and factions are apt enough to flatter themselves, 
or at least to brave that which they believe not. 
Also the foresight and prevention, that there be no likely or fit 
head whereunto discontented persons may resort, and under whom 

hey may join, is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I under- 
stand a fit head to be one that hath greatness and reputation; that 
hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they 
turn their eyes; and that is thought discontented in his own par- 
ticular: which kind of persons are either to be won and reconciled 
to the state, and that in a fast and true manner; or to be fronted 
with some other of the same party, that may oppose them, and so 
divide the reputation. Generally, the dividing and breaking of all 
factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and setting 
them at distance, or at least distrust, amongst themselves, is not one 
of the worst remedies. For it is a desperate case, if those that hold 
with the proceeding of the state be full of discord and faction, and 
those that are against it be entire and united. 
I have noted that some witty and sharp speeches which have fallen 
from princes have given fire to seditions. Cæsar did himself infinite 
hurt in that speech, Sylla nescivit literas, non potuit dictare [Sylla 
was no scholar, he could not dictate]; for it did utterly cut off that 
hope which men had entertained, that he would at one time or 
other give over his dictatorship. Galba undid himself by that speech, 
legi a se militem, non emi [that he did not buy his soldiers, but 
levied them]; for it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative. 13 
Probus likewise, by that speech, Si vixero, non opus mt amp/ius 
Romano imperio militibus [If I live, the Roman empire shall have 
no more need of soldiers]; a speech of great despair for the soldiers. 
And many the like. Surely princes had need, in tender matters and 
13 Gifts of money. 



42 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
ticklish times, to beware what they say; especially in these short 
speeches, which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out 
of their secret intentions. F or as for large discourses, they are flat 
things, and not so much noted. 
Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be without some great 
person, one or rather more, of military valor, near unto them, for the 
repressing of seditions in their beginnings. For without that, there 
useth to be more trepidation in court upon the first breaking out of 
troubles than were fit. And the state runneth the danger of that 
which Tacitus saith; Atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum 
facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur [A few were 
in a humor to attempt mischief, more to desire, all to allow it]. But 
let such military persons be assured, and well reputed of, rather than 
factious and popular; holding also good correspondence with the 
other great men in the state; or else the remedy is worse than the 
disease. 


XVI 


OF ATHEISM 


I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend,1 and the Talmud,! 
and the Alcoran,3 than that this universal frame is without a mind. 
And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince 4 atheism, 
because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philos- 
ophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy 
bringeth men's minds about to religion. For while the mind of man 
looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, 
and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, con- 
federate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and 
Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth 
most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and 
Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, 
that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly 
and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite 
small portions or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and 


1 "The Golden Legend," a 13th century collection of saints' lives. 
2 The body of Jewish traditional law. 3 "The Koran," the sacred book of the 
Mohammedans. 4 Refute. 



OF ATHEISM 43 
beauty without a divine marshal. The Scripture saith, The fool hath 
said in his heart, there is no God; it is not said, The fool hath thought 
in his heart; so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he 
would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded 
of it. For none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh 5 
that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism 
is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this; that 
atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted 
in it within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by 
the consent of others. Nay more, you shall have atheists strive to 
get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And, which is most of 
all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not re- 
cant; whereas if they did truly think that there were no such thing 
as God, why should they trouble themselves? Epicurus is charged 
that he did but dissemble for his credit's sake, when he affirmed there 
were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed themselves without hav- 
ing respect to the government of the world. Wherein they say he did 
temporize; though in secret he thought there was no God. But cer- 
tainly he is traduced; for his words are noble and divine: Non deos 
vulgi negare profanum; sed vulgi opiniones diis applicare profanum 
[There is no profanity in refusing to believe in the gods of the 
people: the profanity is in believing of the gods what the people 
believe of them]. Plato could have said no more. And although he 
had the confidence to deny the administration, he had not the power 
to deny the nature. The Indians of the West have names for their 
particular gods, though they have no name for God: as if the 
heathens should have had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, etc. but 
not the word Deus; which shows that even those barbarous people 
have the notion, though they have not the latitude and extent of it. 
So that against atheists the very savages take part with the very 
subtlest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is rare: a Diagoras, 
a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others; and yet they seem to be 
more than they are; for that all that impugn a received religion or 
superstition are by the adverse part branded with the name of athe- 
ists. But the great atheists indeed are hypocrites; which are ever 
handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must needs be 
5 Profiteth. 



44 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
cauterized in the end. The causes of atheism are: divisions in 
religion, if they be many; for anyone main division addeth zeal to 
both sides; but many divisions introduce atheism. Another is, scandal 
of priests; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith, Non est 
jam dicere, ut populus sic sacerdos,. quia nec sic populus ut sacerdos 
[One cannot now say the priest is as the people, for the truth is that 
the people are not so bad as the priest]. A third is, custom of profane 
scoffing in holy matters; which doth by little and little deface the 
reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, specially with peace 
and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men's 
minds to religion. They that deny a God destroy man's nobility; 
for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be 
not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It 
destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature; 
for take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and cour- 
age he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man; who 
to him is instead of a God, or melior natura [better nature]; which 
courage is manifestly such as that creature, without that confidence 
of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he 
resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favor, 
gathered a force and faith which human nature in itself could not 
obtain. Therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, 
that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above 
human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations. 
Never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome. Of this 
state hear what Cicero saith: Quam volumus licet, patres conscripti, 
nos amemus, tamen nec numero Hispanos, nee robore Gallos, nee 
ealliditate Pænos, nee artibus Græeos, nee denique hoc ipso hujus 
gentis et terræ domestieo nativoque sensu Italos ipsos et Latinos; sed 
pietate, ae religione, atque hac una sapientia, quod deorum immor- 
talium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspeximus, omnes gentes 
nationesque superavimus [Pride ourselves as we may upon our coun- 
try, yet are we not in number superior to the Spaniards, nor in 
strength to the Gauls, nor in cunning to the Carthaginians, not to 
the Greeks in arts, nor to the Italians and Latins themselves in the 
homely and native sense which belongs to this nation and land; it 
is in piety only and religion, and the wisdom of regarding the provi- 



OF SUPERSTITION 45 
dence of the immortal gods as that which rules and governs aU 
things, that we have surpassed all nations and peoples]. 


XVII 


OF SUPERSTITION 


IT were better to have no opinion of God at aU, than such an 
opinion as is unworthy of him. For the one is unbelief, the other is 
contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. 
Plutarch saith well to that purpose: Surely (saith he) I had rather a 
great deal men should say there was nO such man at all as Plutarch, 
than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat 
his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak of Saturn. 
And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is 
greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, 
to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to 
an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but supersti. 
tion dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the 
minds of men. Therefore atheism did never perturb states; for it 
makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further: and we see 
the times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Cæsar) were 
civiP times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, 
and bringeth in a new primum mobile,2 that ravisheth all the spheres 
of government. The master of superstition is the people; and in 
all superstition wise men follow fools; and arguments are fitted to 
practice, in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some of the prel- 
ates in the Council of Trent, where the doctrine of the Schoolmen 
bare great sway, that the Schoolmen were like astronomers, which 
did feign eccentrics and epicycles,3 and such engines 40 of orbs, to saves 
the phenomena; though they knew there were no such things; and 
in like manner, that the Schoolmen had framed a number of subtle 
and intricate axioms and theorems, to save the practice of the church. 
The causes of superstition are: pleasing and sensual rites and cere. 
1 Peaceful. 2 See Essay XV., n. 3. 
3 According to the Ptolemaic astronomy, the planets moved in circles called epicy- 
cles, the centers of which also moved in circles called eccentrics, because their centers 
were outside the earth. 4 Machinery. :ï Account for. 



4 6 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


monies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; over-great rev- 
erence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; the strata- 
gems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre; the favoring too 
much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and 
novelties; the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which 
cannot but breed mixture of imaginations; and, lastly, barbarous 
times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition, 
without a veil, is a deformed thing; for as it addeth deformity to an 
ape to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion 
makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth 
to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of 
petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, 
when men think to do best if they go furthest from the superstition 
formerly received; therefore care would be had that (as it fareth in ill 
purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad; which COIJ}f 
monly is done when the people is the reformer. 


XVIII 


OF TRAVEL 


TRAVEL, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, 
a part of experience. He that travelleth into a country before he hath 
some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel. 
That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant, I allow 1 
well; so that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been 
in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what 
things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go; what 
acquaintances they are to seek; what exercises or discipline the place 
yieldeth. For else young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. 
It is a strange thing, that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to 
be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in land-travel, 
wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; 
as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries 
therefore be brought in use. The things to be seen and observed are: 
the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambas- 
1 Approve. 



OF TRAVEL 4ï 
sadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of 
consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries, with the 
monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of 
cities and towns, and so the havens and harbors; antiquities and 
ruins; libraries; colleges, disputations, and lectures, where any are; 
shipping and navies; houses and gardens of state and pleasure, near 
great cities; armories; arsenals; magazines; exchanges; burses; ware
 
houses; exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and 
the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do 
resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and, to 
conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go. 
After all which the tutors or servants ought to make diligent inquiry. 
As for triumphs, masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital execu
 
tions, and such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them; yet 
are they not to be neglected. If you will have a young man to put 
his travel into a little room, and in short time to gather much, this 
you must do. First, as was said, he must have some entrance into the 
language before he goeth. Then he must have such a servant or 
tutor as knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry 
with him also some card 2 or book describing the country where he 
travelleth; which will be a good key to his inquiry. Let him keep 
also a diary. Let him not stay long in one city or town; more or less 
as the place deserveth, but not long; nay, when he stayeth in one 
city or town, let him change his lodging from one end and part of 
the town to another; which is a great adamant 3 of acquaintance. Let 
him sequester himself from the company of his countrymen, and diet 
in such places where there is good company of the nation where he 
travelleth. Let him, upon his removes from one place to another, 
procure recommendation to some person of quality residing in the 
place whither he removeth; that he may use his favor in those 
things he desireth to see or know. Thus he may abridge his travel 
with much profit. As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in 
travel; that which is most of all profitable is acquaintance with the 
secretaries and employed men of ambassadors: for so in travelling in 
one country he shall suck the experience of many. Let him also see 
and visit eminent persons in all kinds, which are of great name 
2 Map. 3 Loadstone. 



48 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
abroad; that he may be able to tell how the life agreeth with the fame. 
For quarrels, they are with care and discretion to be avoided. They 
are commonly for mistresses, healths, place, and words. And let a 
man beware how he keepeth company with choleric and quarrelsome 
persons; for they will engage him into their own quarrels. When a 
traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he 
hath travelled altogether behind him; but maintain a correspondence 
by letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth. 
And let his travel appear rather in his discourse than his apparel or 
gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers, 
than forward to tell stories; and let it appear that he doth not change 
his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only prick in 
some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his 
own country. 


XIX 


OF EMPIRE 


IT is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and 
many things to fear; and yet that commonly is the case of kings; who, 
being at the highest, want matter of desire, which makes their minds 
more languishing; and have many representations of perils and 
shadows, which makes their minds the less clear. And this is one 
reason also of that effect which the Scripture speaketh of, That the 
king's heart is inscrutable. For multitude of jealousies, and lack of 
some predominant desire that should marshal and put in order all 
the rest, maketh any man's heart hard to find or sound. Hence it 
comes likewise, that princes many times make themselves desires, 
and set their hearts upon toys; sometimes upon a building; some- 
times upon erecting of an order; sometimes upon the advancing of a 
person; sometimes upon obtaining excellency in some art or feat of 
the hand; as Nero for playing on the harp, Domitian for certainty 
of the hand with the arrow, Commodus for playing at fence, Cara- 
calla for driving chariots, and the like. This seemeth incredible unto 
those that know not the principle that the mind of man is more 
cheered and refreshed by profiting in small things, than by standing 
at a stay in great. We see also that kings that have been fortunate 
conquerors in their first years, it being not possible for them to go 



OF EMPIRE 49 
forward infinitely, but that they must have some check or arrest in 
their fortunes, turn in their latter years to be superstitious and 
melancholy; as did Alexander the Great; Diocletian; and in our 
memory, Charles the Fifth; and others: for he that is used to go 
forward, and findeth a stop, falleth out of his own favor, and is not 
the thing he was. 
To speak now of the true temper l of empire, it is a thing rare and 
hard to keep; for both temper and distemper consist of contraries. 
But it is one thing to mingle contraries, another to interchange them. 
The answer of Ap..]iionius to Vespasian is full of excellent instruc- 
tion. Vespasian asked him, W hat was Nero's overthrow? He 
answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well; but in govern- 
ment sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes to let 
them down too low. And certain it is that nothing destroyeth author- 
ity so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power 
pressed too far, and relaxed too much. 
This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter times in princes' 
affairs is rather fine deliveries and shiftings of dangers and mis- 
chiefs when they are near, than solid and grounded courses to keep 
them aloof. But this is but to try masteries with fortune. And let 
men beware how they neglect and suffer matter of trouble to be 
prepared; for no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may 
come. The difficulties in princes' business are many and great; but 
the greatest difficulty is often in their own mind. For it is common 
with princes (saith Tacitus) to will contradictories, Sunt plerumque 
regum voluntates vehementes, et inter se contrariæ [Their desires are 
commonly vehement and incompatible one with another]. For it 
is the solecism 2 of power, to think to command the end, and yet not 
to endure the mean. 
Kings have to deal with their neighbors, their wives, their chil- 
dren, their prela"
s or clergy, their nobles, their second-nobles or 
gentlemen, their merchants, their commons, and their men of war; 
and from all these arise dangers, if care and circumspection be not 
used. 
First for their neighbors; there can no general rule be given (the 
occasions are so variable), save one, which ever holdeth; which is, 
that princes do keep due sentinel, that none of their neighbors do 
1 Proportion. 2 Absurd mistake. 



50 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
ever grow so (by increase of territory, by embracing of trade, by 
approaches, or the like), as they become more able to annoy them 
than they were. And this is generally the work of standing counsels 
to foresee and to hinder it. During that triumvirate of kings, King 
Henry the Eighth of England, Francis the First King of France, 
and Charles the Fifth Emperor, there was such a watch kept, that 
none of the three could win a palm of ground, but the other two 
would straightways balance it, either by confederation, or, if need 
were, by a war; and would not in any wise take up peace at interest. 
And the like was done by that league (which Guicciardini saith was 
the security of Italy) made between Ferdinando King of Naples, 
Lorenzius Medici, and Ludovicus Sforza, potentates, the one of 
Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opinion of some of the 
Schoolmen to be received, that a war cannot justly be made but upon 
a precedent injury or provocation. For there is no question but a 
just fear of an imminent danger, though there be no blow given, is 
a lawful ca use of a war. 
For their wives; there are cruel examples of them. Livia is in- 
famed for the poisoning of her husband; Roxalana, Solyman's wife, 
was the destruction of that renowned prince Sultan Mustapha, and 
otherwise troubled his house and succession; Edward the Second of 
England his queen had the principal hand in the deposing and 
murther of her husband. This kind of danger is then to be feared 
chiefly, when the wives have plots for the raising of their own chil- 
dren; or else that they be advoutresses. 3 
For their children; the tragedies likewise of dangers from them 
have been many. And generally, the entering of fathers into sus- 
picion of their children hath been ever unfortunate. The destruction 
of Mustapha (that we named before) was so fatal to Solyman's line, 
as the succession of the Turks from Solyman until this day is sus- 
pected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the Sec- 
ond was thought to be suppositious. The destruction of Crisp us, a 
young prince of rare towardness, by Constantinus the Great, his 
father, was in like manner fatal to his house; for both Constantinus 
and Constance, his sons died violent deaths; and Constantius, his 
other son, did little better; who died indeed of sickness, but after 


3 Adulteresses. 



OF EMPIRE 5 I 
that Julianus had taken arms against him. The destruction of 
Demetrius, son to Philip the Second of Macedon, turned upon the 
father, who died of repentance. And many like examples there 
are; but few or none where the fathers had good by such distrust; 
except it were where the sons were up in open arms against them; 
as was Selymus the First against Bajazet; and the three sons of 
Henry the Second, King of England. 
For their prelates; when they are proud and great, there is also 
danger from them; as it was in the times of Anselmus and Thomas 
Becket, Archbishops of Canterbury; who with their croziers did 
almost try it with the king's sword; and yet they had to deal with 
stout and haughty kings, William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry 
the Second. The danger is not from that state, but where it hath a 
dependence of foreign authority; or where the churchmen come in 
and are elected, not by the collation of the king, or particular patrons, 
but by the people. 
For their nobles; to keep them at a distance, it is not amiss; but 
to depress them, may make a king more absolute, but less safe; and 
less able to perform any thing that he desires. I have noted it in 
my History of King Henry the Seventh of England, who depressed 
his nobility; whereupon it came to pass that his times were full of 
difficulties and troubles; for the nobility, though they continued loyal 
unto him, yet did they not co..operate with him in his business. So 
that in effect he was fain to do all things himself. 
For their second-nobles; there is not much danger from them, 
being a body dispersed. They may sometimes discourse high, but 
that doth little hurt; besides, they are a counterpoise to the higher 
nobility, that they grow not too potent; and, lastly, being the most 
immediate in authority with the common people, they do best 
temper popular commotions. 
For their merchants; they are vena porta;4 and if they flourish not, 
a kingdom may have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and 
nourish little. Taxes and imposts upon them do seldom good to the 
king's revenue; for that that he wins in the hundred he leeseth 5 in 
the shire; the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of 
trading rather decreased. 
4 The "gate-vein," which Bacon regarded as distributing nourishment to the body. 
5 Loseth. 



52 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
For their commons; there is little danger from them, except it 
be where they have great and potent heads; or where you meddle 
with the point of religion, or their customs, or means of life. 
For their men of war; it is a dangerous state where they live and 
remain in a body; and are used to donatives; whereof we see ex- 
amples in the janizaries,6 and pretorian bands 7 of Rome; but train- 
ings of men, and arming them in several places, and under several 
commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence, and no 
danger. 
Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; 
and which have much veneration, but no rest. All precepts concern- 
ing kings are in effect comprehended in those two remembrances: 
memento quod es homo; and memento quod es Deus 1 or vice Dei 
[Remember that you are a man; and remember that you are a God, 
or God's lieutenant]; the one bridleth their power, and the other 
their will. 


xx 


OF COUNSEL 


THE greatest trust between man and man is the trust of giving 
counsel. For in other confidences men commit the parts of life; 
their lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular 
affair; but to such as they make their counsellors, they commit the 
whole: by how much the more they are obliged to all faith and 
integrity. The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to 
their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency, to rely upon coun- 
sel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great 
names of his blessed Son: T he Counsellor. Solomon hath pro- 
nounced that in counsel is stability. Things will have their first or 
second agitation: if they be not tossed upon the arguments of coun- 
sel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune; and be full of 
inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man. 
Solomon's son found the force of counsel, as his father saw the 
necessity of it. For the beloved kingdom of God was first rent and 
broken by ill counsel; upon which counsel there are set for our in- 
struction the two marks whereby bad counsel is for ever best dis- 
8 Bodyguard of the Sultan. 7 Bodyguard of the Roman emperors. 



OF COUNSEL 


S3 


cerned; that it was young counsel, for the persons; and violent 
counsel, for the matter. 
The ancient times do set forth in figure both the incorporation 
and inseparable conjunction of counsel with kings, and the wise and 
politic use of counsel by kings: the one, in that they say Jupiter did 
marry Metis, which signifieth counsel; whereby they intend that 
Sovereignty is married to Counsel: the other in that which follow- 
eth, which was thus: They say, after Jupiter was married to Metis, 
she conceived by him and was with child, but Jupiter suffered her 
not to stay till she brought forth, but eat her up; whereby he became 
himself with child, and was delivered of Pallas armed, out of his 
head. Which monstrous fable containeth a secret of empire; how 
kings are to make use of their counsel of state. That first they ought 
to refer matters unto them, which is the first begetting or impregna- 
tion; but when they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped in the womb 
of their counsel, and grow ripe and ready to be brought forth, that 
then they suffer not their counsel to go through with the resolution 
and direction, as if it depended on them; but take the matter back 
into their own hands, and make it appear to the world that the 
decrees and final directions (which, because they come forth with 
prudence and power, are resembled to Pallas armed) proceeded 
from themselves; and not only from their authority, but (the more 
to add reputation to themselves) from their head and device. 
Let us now speak of the inconveniences of counsel, and of the 
remedies. The inconveniences that have been noted in calling and 
using counsel are three. First, the revealing of affairs, whereby they 
become less secret. Secondly, the weakening of the authority of 
princes, as if they were less of themselves. Thirdly, the danger of 
being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that 
counsel than of him that is counselled. F or which inconveniences, 
the doctrine of Italy, and practice of France, in some kings' times, 
hath introduced cabinet 1 counsels; a remedy worse than the disease. 
As to secrecy; princes are not bound to communicate all matters 
with all counsellors; but may extract and select. Neither is it neces- 
sary that he that consulteth what he should do, should declare what 
he will do. But let princes beware that the un secreting of their affairs 
comes not from themselves. And as for cabinet counsels, it may be 
1 Secret 



54 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
their motto, pZenus rimarum sum [I am full of leaks]: one futile 2 
person that maketh it his glory to tell, will do more hurt than many 
that know it their duty to conceal. It is true there be some affairs 
which require extreme secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or 
two persons besides the king: neither are those counsels unpros- 
perous; for, besides the secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in 
one spirit of direction, without distraction. But then it must be a 
prudent king, such as is able to grind with a hand-mill; and those 
inward counsellors had need also be wise men, and especially true 
and trusty to the king's ends; as it was with King Henry the Sev- 
enth of England, who in his greatest business imparted himself to 
none, except it were to Morton and Fox. 
For weakening of authority; the fable showeth the remedy. Nay, 
the majesty of kings is rather exalted than diminished when they are 
in the chair of counsel; neither was there ever prince bereaved of his 
dependences by his counsel; except where there hath been either an 
over-greatness in one counsellor or an over-strict combination in 
divers; which are things soon found and holpen. 3 
For the last inconvenience, that men will counsel with an eye to 
themselves; certainly, non inveniet fidem super terram [he will not 
find faith on the earth] is meant of the nature of times, and not of 
all particular persons. There be that are in nature faithful, and 
sincere, and plain, and direct; not crafty and involved; let princes, 
above all, draw to themselves such natures. Besides, counsellors are 
not commonly so united, but that one counsellor keepeth sentinel 
over another; so that if any do counsel out of faction or private ends, 
it commonly comes to the king's ear. But the best remedy is, if 
princes know their counsellors, as well as their counsellors know 
them: 
Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos. 
[It is the greatest virtue of a prince to know his own.] And on the 
other side, counsellors should not be too speculative" into their sov- 
ereign's person. The true composition of a counsellor is rather to 
be skilful in their master's business, than in his nature; for then he 
is like to advise him, and not feed his humor. It is of singular use 
to princes if they take the opinions of their counsel both separately 
2 Babbling. 3 Helped. "Inquisitive. 



OF COUNSEL 


S5 


and together. For private opinion is more free; but opinion before 
others is more reverent. In private, men are more bold in their own 
humors; and in consort, men are more obnoxious 5 to others' humors; 
therefore it is good to take both; and of the inferior sort rather in 
private, to preserve freedom; of the greater rather in consort, to 
preserve respect. It is in vain for princes to take counsel concerning 
matters, if they take no counsel likewise concerning persons; for all 
matters are as dead images; and the life of the execution of affairs 
resteth in the good choice of persons. Neither is it enough to consult 
concerning persons secundum genera [according to classes], as in an 
idea, or mathematical description, what the kind and character of 
the person should be; for the greatest errors are committed, and the 
most judgment is shown, in the choice of individuals. It was truly 
said, optimi consiliarii mortui [the best counsellors are the dead]: 
books will speak plain when counsellors blanch. 6 Therefore it is 
good to be conversant in them, especially the books of such as them
 
selves have been actors upon the stage. 
The counsels at this day in most places are but familiar meetings, 
where matters are rather talked on than debated. And they run too 
swift to the order or act of counsel. It were better that in causes of 
weight, the matter were propounded one day and not spoken to 
till the next day; in nocte consilium [night is the season for counsel]. 
So was it done in the Commission of Union between England and 
Scotland; which was a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set 
days for petitions; for both it gives the suitors more certainty for 
their attendance, and it frees the meetings for matters of estate, that 
they may hoc agere [do this]. In choice of committees for ripening 
business for the counsel, it is better to choose indifferenr7 persons, 
than to make an indifferency by putting in those that are strong on 
both sides. I commend also standing commissions; as for trade, for 
treasure, for wars, for suits, for some provinces; for where there be 
divers particular counsels and but one counsel of estate (as it is in 
Spain), they are, in effect, no more than standing commissions: save 
that they have greater authority. Let such as are to inform counsels 
out of their particular professions (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, 
and the like) be first heard before committees; and then, as occasion 
5 Subservient 6 Flatter. 7 Impartial. 



56 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


serves, before the counsel. And let them not come in multitudes, or 
in a tribunitious manner;8 for that is to clamor counsels, not to in- 
form them. A long table and a square table, or seats about the walls, 
seem things of form, but are things of substance; for at a long table 
a few at the upper end, in effect, sway all the business; but in the 
other form there is more use of the counsellors' opinions that sit 
lower. A king, when he presides in counsel, let him beware how 
he opens his own inclination too much in that which he propound- 
eth; for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, and instead 
of giving free counsel, sing him a song of placebo 9 [I shall please]. 


XXI 


OF DELAYS 


FORTUNE is like the market; where many times, if you can stay 
a little, the price will fall. And again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's 
offer; which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth 
part and part, and still holdeth up the price. For occasion (as it is 
in the common verse) turneth a bald noddle, after she hath presented 
her locks in front, and no hold taken; or at least turneth the handle 
of the bottle first to be received, and after the belly, which is hard 
to clasp. There is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the 
beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no more light, if 
they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than 
forced them. Nay, it were better to meet some dangers half way, 
though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch 
upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will 
fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with too long shadows 
(as some have been when the moon was low and shone on their 
enemies' back), and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach 
dangers to come on, by over early buckling towards them; is another 
extreme. The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion (as we said) 
must ever be well weighed; and generally it is good to commit the 
beginnings of all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, and 
the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands; first to watch, and then 
to speed. For the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man l 
8 As demagogues. 9 flattery. I Politician. 



OF CUNNING 


57 


go invisible, is secrecy in the counsel and celerity in the execution. 
For when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy 
comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which 
flieth so swift as it outruns the eye. 


XXII 


OF CUNNING 


WE take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And cer- 
tainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise 
man; not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be 
that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some 
that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak 
men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing 
to understand matters; for many are perfect in men's humors, that 
are not greatly capable of the real part of business; which is the con- 
stitution of one that hath studied men more than books. Such men 
are fitter for practice than for counsel; and they are good but in their 
own alley:l turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim; so 
as the old rule to know a fool from a wise man, Milte ambos nudos 
ad i gnotos, et videbis [Send them both naked to those they know 
not, and you will see], doth scarce hold for them. And because these 
cunning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to 
set forth their shop. 
It is a point of cunning, to wait upon him with whom you speak, 
with your eye; as the Jesuits give it in precept: for there be many 
wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances. 
Yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye some- 
times, as the Jesuits also do use. 
Another is, that when you have anything to obtain of present 
despatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom you deal 
with some other discourse; that he be not too much awake to make 
objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to 
Queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always 
first put her into some discourse of estate, that she moughe the less 
mind the bills. 


1 Bowling-alley. 


2 Might. 



S8 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
The like surprise may be made by moving things when the 
party is in haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is 
moved. . 
If a man would cross a business that he doubts some other would 
handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, 
and move it himself in such sort as may foil it. 
The breaking off in the midst of that one was about to say, as 
if he took himself up, breeds a greater appetite in him with whom 
you confer, to know more. 
And because it works better when anything seemeth to be gotten 
from you by question, than if you offer it of yourself, you may lay 
a bait for a question, by showing another visage and countenance 
than you are wont; to the end to give occasion for the party to ask 
what the matter is of the change? As Nehemias did; And I flad not 
before that time been sad before the kin.g. 
In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the 
ice by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more 
weighty voice to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the 
question upon the other's speech: as Narcissus did, relating to 
Claudius the marriage of Messalina and Silius. 
In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point 
of cunning to borrow the name of the world; as to say, The world 
says, or There is a speech abroad. 
I knew one that, when he wrote a letter, he would put that which 
was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a by-matter. 
I knew another that, when he came to have speech, he would pass 
over that that he intended most; and go forth, and come back again, 
and speak of it as of a thing that he had almost forgot. 
Some procure themselves to be surprised at such times as it is 
like the party that they work upon will suddenly come upon them; 
and to be found with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat 
which they are not accustomed; to the end they may be apposed 3 
of those things which of themselves they are desirous to utter. 
It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words in a man's own 
name, which he would have another man learn and use, and there- 
upon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the 
3 Questioned. 



59 
secretary's place in Queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good 
quarter" between themselves; and would confer one with another 
upon the business; and the one of them said, That to be a secretary 
in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he 
did not affect 5 it: the other straight caught up those words and dis- 
coursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire 
to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy, The first man took 
hold of it, and found means it was told the Queen; who hearing 
of a declination of a monarchy, took it so ill as she would never 
after hear of the other's suit. 
There is a cunning, which we in England call the turning of the 
cat 6 in the pan; which is, when that which a man says to another, 
he lays it as if another had said it to him. And to say truth, it is 
not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear 
from which of them it first moved and began. 
It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others by 
justifying themselves by negatives; as to say, This I do not; as Tigel- 
linus did towards Burrhus, Se non diversas spes, sed incolumitatem 
imp
atoris simpliciter spectare [That he had not several hopes to 
rest on, but looked simply to the safety of the Emperor.] 
Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is 
nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale; 
which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make 
others carry it with more pleasure. 
It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he 
would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the 
other party stick the less. 
It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak some- 
what they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch; and how 
many other matters they will beat over, to come near it. It is a 
thing of great patience, but yet of much use. 
A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times sur- 
prise a man, and lay him open. Like to him that, having changed his 
name and walking in Paul's,7 another suddenly came behind him 
and called him by his true name, whereat straightways he looked 
back. 


OF CUNNING 


" Relations. 5 Desire. 6 Cate or cake. 
7 St. Paul's Cathedral, then a fashionable promenade. 



60 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite; 
and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing 
doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise. 
But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls 8 of 
business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that 
hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. There- 
fore you shall see them find out pretty 100ses 9 in the conclusion, but 
are no ways able to examine or debate matters. And yet commonly 
they take advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits 
of direction. 10 Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and 
(as we now say) putting tricks upon them. than upon soundness 
of their own proceedings. But Solomon saith, Prudens advertit ad 
gressus suos; stultus divertit ad dolos [The wise taketh heed to his 
steps; the fool turneth aside to deceits.] 


XXIII 


OF WISDOM FOR A MAN'S SELF 


AN ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd 1 thing in 
an orchard or garden. And certainly men that are great lovers of 
themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love 
and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others; 
specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's 
actions, himself. It is right earth}! F or that only stands fast upon 
his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens 
move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring 
of all to a man's self is more tolerable in a sovereign prince; because 
themselves are not only themselves but their good and evil is at the 
peril of the public fortune. But it is a desperate evil in a servant 
to a prince, or a citizen in a republic. For whatsoever affairs pass such 
a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends; which must 
needs be often eccentric t0 3 the ends of his master or state. There- 
fore let princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this 


8 Entrances and exits. 9 Shots. 10 Clever at directing others. 1 Mischievous. 
2 Precisely like the earth. Bacon here is thinking of the old astronomy, according 
to which all the heavenly bodies moved round the earth. 
3 Have a different center from. 



OF INNOVATIONS 


61 


mark; except they mean their service should be made but the acces- 
sory. That which maketh the effect more pernicious is that all pro- 
portion is lost. It were disproportion enough for the servant's good 
to be preferred before the master's; but yet it is a greater extreme, 
when a little good of the servant shall carry things against a great 
good of the master's. And yet that is the case of bad officers, treas- 
urers, ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; 
which set a bias. upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and 
envies, to the overthrow of their master's great and important affairs. 
And for the most part, the good such servants receive is after the 
model 5 of their own fortune; but the hurt they sell for that good is 
after the model of their master's fortune. And certainly it is the 
nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it 
were but to roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold 
credit with their masters, because their study is but to please them 
and profit themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the 
good of their affairs. 
Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved 
thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house 
somewhat before it fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out 
the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of 
crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which 
is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of 
Pompey) are sui amantes, sine rivali [lovers of themselves without a 
rival] are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their 
times sacrificed to themselves, they become in the end themselves 
sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they sought by 
their self-wisdom to have pinioned. 


XXIV 


OF INNOVATIONS 


As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all 
innovations, which are the births of time. Yet notwithstanding, 
as those that first bring honor into their family are commonly more 
· A weight let into one side, to make the bowl describe a curve. :; Scale. 



62 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
worthy than most that succeed, so the first precedent (if it be good) 
is seldom attained by imitation. For ill, to man's nature as it stands 
perverted, hath a natural motion, strongest in continuance; but good, 
as a forced motion, strongest at first. Surely every medicine is an 
innovation; and he that will not apply new remedies must expect 
new evils; for time is the greatest innovator; and if time of course l 
alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter 
them to the better, what shall be the end? It is true, that what is 
settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit; and those 
things which have long gone together are as it were confederate 
within themselves; whereas new things piece not so well; but though 
they help by their utility, yet they trouble by their inconformity. 
Besides, they are like strangers; more admired and less favored. 
All this is true, if time stood still; which contrariwise moveth so 
round, that a froward 2 retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as 
an innovation; and they that reverence too much old times are but 
a scorn to the new. It were good therefore that men in their inno- 
vations would follow the example of time itself; which indeed in- 
novateth greatly, but quietly, by degrees scarce to be perceived. For 
otherwise, whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends 
some, and pairs 3 other; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, 
and thanks the time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth 
it to the author. It is good also not to try experiments in states, 
except the necessity be urgent, or the utility evident; and well to 
beware that it be the reformation that draweth on the change, and 
not the desire of change that pretendeth the reformation. And lastly, 
that the novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a suspect; 
and, as the Scripture saith, that we make a stand upon the ancient 
way, and then look about us, and discover what is the straight and 
right way, and so to walk in it. 


xxv 


OF DISPATCH 


AFFECTED l dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to busi- 
ness that can be. It is like that which the physicians call predigestion, 
1 By its course. 2 Stubborn. 3 Impairs. 1 Excessively desired. 



OF DISPATCH 63 
or hasty digestion; which is sure to fill the body full of crudities 
and secret seeds of diseases. Therefore measure not dispatch by the 
times of sitting, but by the advancement of the business. And as in 
races it is not the large stride or high lift that makes the speed; so 
in business, the keeping close to the matter, and not taking of it 
too much at once, procureth dispatch. It is the care of some only 
to come off speedily for the time; or to contrive some false periods 2 
of business, becáuse they may seem men of dispatch. But it is one 
thing to abbreviate by contracting, another by cutting off. And 
business so handled at several sittings or meetings goeth commonly 
backward and forward in an unsteady manner. I knew a wise man 
that had it for a by-word, when he saw men hasten to a conclusion, 
Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner. 
On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing. For time is the 
measure of business, as money is of wares; and business is bought 
at a dear hand where there is small dispatch. The Spartans and 
Spaniards have been noted to be of small dispatch; Mi venga la 
muerte de Spagna; Let my death come from Spain; for then it will 
be sure to be long in coming. 
Give good hearing to those that give the first information in 
business; and rather direct them in the beginning than interrupt 
them in the continuance of their speeches; for he that is put out of 
his own order will go forward and backward, and be more tedious 
while he waits upon his memory, than he could have been if he had 
gone on in his own course. But sometimes it is seen that the mod- 
erator is more troublesome than the actor. 
Iterations are commonly loss of time. But there is no such gain 
of time as to iterate often the state of the question; for it chaseth 
away many a frivolous speech as it is coming forth. Long and 
curious 3 speeches are as fit for dispatch, as a robe or mantle with a 
long train is for race. Prefaces and passages: and excusations, and 
other speeches of reference to the person, are great wastes of time; 
and though they seem to proceed of modesty, they are bravery.5 
Yet beware of being too material 6 when there is an impediment 
or obstruction in men's wills; for pre-occupation of mind ever 


2 Only apparently finished. 3 Elaborate. 4 Transitions. 5 Showing off. 
6 Coming too soon to the point. 



64 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
requireth preface of speech; like a fomentation to make the unguent 
enter. 
Above all things, order, and distribution, and singling out of parts, 
is the life of dispatch; so as the distribution be not too subtle: for 
he that doth not divide will never enter well into business; and he 
that divideth too much will never come out of it clearly. To choose 
time is to save time; and an unseasonable motion is but beating the 
air. There be three parts of business; the preparation, the debate or 
examination, and the perfection. Whereof, if you look for dispatch, 
let the middle only be the work of many, and the first and last the 
work of few. The proceeding upon somewhat conceived in writing 
doth for the most part facilitate dispatch: for though it should be 
wholly rejected, yet that negative is more pregnant of direction than 
an indefinite; as ashes are more generative than dust. 


XXVI 


OF SEEMING WISE 


IT hath been an opinion that the French are wiser than they seem, 
and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are. But howsoever it be 
between nations, certainly it is so between man and man. For as 
the Apostle 1 saith of godliness, Having a show of godliness, but 
denying the power thereof; so certainly there are in point of wisdom 
and sufficiency, that do nothing or little very solemnly: magno 
conatu llugas [with great effort, trifles]. It is ridiculous thing and 
fit for a satire to persons of judgment, to see what shifts these 
formalists have, and what prospectives 2 to make superficies La sur- 
face] to seem body that hath depth, and bulk. Some are so close 
and reserved, as they will not show their wares but by a dark light; 
and seem always to keep back somewhat; and when they know 
within themselves they speak of that they do not well know, would 
nevertheless seem to others to know of that which they may not 
well speak. Some help themselves with countenance and gesture, 
and are wise by signs; as Cicero saith of Piso, that when he answered 
him, he fetched one of his brows up to his forehead, and bent the 
J St. Paul. 
 Stereoscopes. 



OF FRIENDSHIP 


65 


other down to his chin; Respondes, altero ad frontem sublato, altero 
ad mentum depresso supercilio, crudelitatem tibi non placere [You 
answer, with one eyebrow lifted to the forehead and the other low- 
ered to the chin, that cruelty does not please you]. Some think to 
bear ie by speaking a great word, and being peremptory; and go 
on, and take by admittance that which they cannot make good. 4 
Some, whatsoever is beyond their reach, will seem to despise or 
make light of it as impertinent 5 or curious;6 and so would have their 
ignorance seem judgment. Some are never without a difference, 
and commonly by amusing men with a subtility, blanch 7 the matter; 
of whom A. Gellius saith, Hominem delirum,qui t/erborum minu- 
tiis rerum frangit pondera [A foolish man, that with verbal points 
and niceties breaks up the mass of matter]. Of which kind also, 
Plato in his Protagoras bringeth in Prodius in scorn, and maketh 
him make a speech that 
onsisteth of distinctions from the begin- 
ning to the end. Generally, such men in all deliberations find ease 
to be of the negative side, and affect a credit to object and foretell 
difficulties; for when propositions are denied, there is an end of 
them; but if they be allowed, it requireth a new work; which false 
point of wisdom is the bane of business. To conclude, there is no 
decaying merchant, or inward 8 beggar, hath so many tricks to 
uphold the credit of their wealth, as these empty persons have to 
maintain the credit of their sufficiency. Seeming wise men may 
make shift to get opinion; but let no man choose them for employ- 
ment; for certainly you were better take for business a man some- 
what absurd 9 than over-formal. 


XXVII 


OF FRIENDSHIP 


IT had been hard for him that spake l it to have put more truth 
and untruth together in few words, than in that speech, W hatso- 
ever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. For it 
is most true that a natural and secret hatred and aversation towards 


3 Carry it off. 4 Assume what they can not prove. 5 Irrelevant. 
C Uselessl}" elaborate. 7 Evade. 8 Secretly bankrupt. 9 Rough. 1 Aristotle. 



66 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


society in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is 
most untrue that it should have any character at all of the divine 
nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in soltitude, but out 
of a love and desire to sequester a man's self for a higher con versa- 
tion: 2 such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in some 
of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, N uma the Roman, 
Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and 
really in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the church. 
But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extend- 
eth. For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of 
pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love. The 
Latin adage meeteth with it a little: Magna civitas, magna solitudo 
[A great town is a great solitude]; because in a great town friends 
are scattered; so that there is not that fellowship, for the most part, 
which is in less neighborhoods. But we may go further, and affirm 
most truly that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true 
friends; without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in 
this sense also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature 
and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and 
not from humanity. 
A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the 
fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do 
cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations 
are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise 
in the mind; you may take sarza 3 to open the liver, steel to open the 
spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but 
no receipt openeth the heart, but a true friend; to whom you may 
impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatso- 
ever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or 
confession. 
It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate great kings and 
monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship whereof we speak: 
so great, as they purchase it many times at the hazard of their own 
safety and greatness. For princes, in regard of the distance of their 
fortune from that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this 
2 Intercourse. 3 Sarsaparilla. 



OF FRIENDSHIP 67 
fruit, except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some 
persons to be as it were companions and almost equals to themselves, 
which many times sorteth to inconvenience. The modern languages 
give unto such persons the name of favorites, or privadoes; as if it 
were matter of grace, or conversation. But the Roman name attain- 
eth the true use and cause thereof, naming them participes curarum 
[partners of cares]; for it is that which tieth the knot. And we see 
plainly that this hath been done, not by weak and passionate princes 
only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned; who have 
oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants; whom both 
themselves have called friends, and allowed others likewise to call 
them in the same manner; using the word which is received between 
private men. 
L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after sur
 
named the Great) to that height, that Pompey vaunted himself for 
Sylla's over-match. For when he had carried the consulship for a 
friend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little 
resent thereat, and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon him 
again, and in effect bade him be quiet; for that more men adored the 
sun rising than the sun setting. With Julius Cæsar, Decimus Brutus 
had obtained that interest, as he set him down in his testament for 
heir in remainder after his nephew. And this was the man that had 
power with him to draw him forth to his death. For when Cæsar 
would have discharged the senate, in regard of some ill presages, 
and specially a dream of Calpurnia; this man lifted him gently by 
the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss 
the senate till his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth 
his favor was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited ver- 
batim in one of Cicero's Philippics, calleth him venefica, witch; as 
if he had enchanted Cæsar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of 
mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Mæcenas 
about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Mæcenas took the liberty 
to tell him, that he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or 
take away his life; there was no third way, he had made him so great. 
With Tiberius Cæsar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they 
two were termed and reckoned as a pair of friends. Tiberius in a 



68 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


letter to him saith, Hæc pro amicitiá nostrá non occultavi [These 
things, as our friendship required, I have not concealed from you]; 
and the whole senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a god- 
dess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship between them two. 
The like or more was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus. 
For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and 
would often maintain Plautianus in doing affronts to his son; and 
did write also in a letter to the senate, by these words: I love the 
man so wel!l as I wish he may over-live me. Now if these princes 
had been as a Trajan or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have 
thought that this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature; 
but being men so wise, of such strength and severity of mind, and 
so extreme lovers of themselves, as all these were, it proveth most 
plainly that they found their own felicity (though as great as ever 
happened to mortal men) but as an half piece: except they mought 
have a friend to make it entire; and yet, which is more, they were 
princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet all these could not 
supply the comfort of friendship. 
It is not to be forgotten what Comineus observeth of his first 
master, Duke Charles the Hardy; namely, that he would communi- 
cate his secrets with none; and least of all, those secrets which troubled 
him most. Whereupon he goeth on and saith that towards his 
latter time that c/osenesl did impair and a little perish his under- 
standing. Surely Comineus mought have made the same judgment 
also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the Eleventh, 
whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable 6 of Pythag- 
oras is dark, but true; Cor ne edito; Eat not the heart. Certainly, if 
a man would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends to open 
themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts. But one thing is 
most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friend- 
ship), which is, that this communicating of a man's self to his friend 
works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs 
in halves. For there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, 
but he joyeth the more; and no man that impaneth his griefs to his 
friend, but he grieveth the less. So that it is in truth of operation 
4 Coin cut in two. 6 Secretiveness. 6 Proverb. 



OF FRIENDSHIP 


69 


upon a man's mind, of like virtue as the alchemists use to attribute 
to their stone 7 for man's body; that it worketh all contrary effects, 
but still to the good and benefit of nature. But yet without praying 
in aid of alchemists, there is a manifest image of this in the ordinary 
course of nature. For in bodies, union strengthened and cheri sheth 
any natural action; and on the other side weakeneth and dulleth any 
violent impression: and even so it is of minds. 
The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the 
understanding, as the first is for the affections. For friendship 
maketh indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tem- 
pests; but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness 
and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only 
of faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend; but 
before you come to that, certain it is that whosoever hath his mind 
fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify 
and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another; 
he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more 
orderly; he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: 
finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour's 
discourse than by a day's meditation. It was well said by Themis- 
tocles to the king of Persia, That speech was like cloth of Arras, 
opened and put abroad; whereby the imagery doth appear in figure;8 
whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs. Neither is this second 
fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only 
to such friends as are able to give a man counsel; (they indeed are 
best;) but even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bring- 
eth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a 
stone, which itself cuts not. In a word, a man were better relate 
himself to a statua or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in 
smother .9 
Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that 
other point which lieth more open and faneth within vulgar observa- 
tion; which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well 
in one of his enigmas, Dry light is ever the best. And certain it is, 
that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier 
7 The "philosopher's stone." 8 Fully displayed. 9 Suppressed. 



70 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and 
judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and 
customs. So as there is as much difference between the counsel 
that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is 
between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no 
such flatterer as is a man's self; and there is no such remedy against 
flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two 
sorts: the one concerning manners, the other concerning business. 
For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health is the 
faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self to a 
strict account is a medicine, sometime, too piercing and corrosive. 
Reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead. Observ- 
ing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case. But 
the best receipt (best, I say, to work, and best to take) is the admoni- 
tion of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors 
and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do 
commit, for want of a friend to tell them of them; to the great dam- 
age both of their fame and fortune: for, as St. James saith, they are 
as men that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their 
own shape and favor. As for business, a man may think, if he will, 
that two eyes see no more than one; or that a gamester seeth always 
more than a looker-on; or that a man in anger is as wise as he that 
hath said over the four and twenty letters; or that a musket may be 
shot off as well upon the arm as upon a rest; and such other fond and 
high imaginations, to think himself all in all. But when all is done, 
the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight. And 
if any man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces; 
asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business 
of another man; it is well (that is to say, better perhaps than if he 
asked none at all); but he runneth two dangers: one, that he shall 
not be faithfully counselled; for it is a rare thing, except it be from 
a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given, but such as shall 
be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it. 
The other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe 
(though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief and 
partly of remedy; even as if you would call a physician that is 
thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of, but is 



OF FRIENDSHIP 7I 
unacquainted with your body; and therefore may put you in way 
for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind; 
and so cure the disease and kill the patient. But a friend that is 
wholly acquainted with a man's estate will beware, by furthering 
any present business, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience. 
And therefore rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather dis- 
tract and mislead, than settle and direct. 
After these two noble fruits of friendship (peace in the affections, 
and support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit; which is like 
the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid and bearing a 
part in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to 
life the manifold use of friendship is to cast and see how many things 
there are which a man cannot do himself; and then it will appear 
that it was a sparing speech of the ancients, to say, that a friend is 
another himself; for that a friend is far more than himself. Men 
have their time, and die many times in desire of some things which 
they principally take to heart; the bestowing iO of a child, the finish- 
ing of a work, or the like. If a man have a true friend, he may rest 
almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him. 
So that a man hath, as it were, two lives in his desires. A man hath 
a body, and that body is confined to a place; but where friendship is, 
all offices of life are as it were granted to him and his deputy. For 
he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there 
which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself? 
A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less 
extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate or beg; and 
a number of the like. But all these things are graceful in a friend's 
mouth, which are blushing in a man's own. So again, a man's per- 
son hath many proper relations which he cannot put off. A man 
cannot speak to his son but as a father; to his wife but as a husband; 
to his enemy but upon terms: whereas a friend may speak as the 
case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person. But to enumer- 
ate these things were endless; I have given the rule, where a man 
cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit 
the stage. 


10 Settling in life. 



7 2 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


XXVIII 


OF EXPENSE 


RICHES are for spending, and spending for honor and good actions. 
Therefore extraordinary expense must be limited by the worth of 
the occasion; for voluntary undoing may be as well for a man's 
country as for the kingdom of heaven. But ordinary expense ought 
to be limited by a man's estate; and governed with such regard, as 
it be within his compass; and not subject to deceit and abuse l of 
servants; and ordered to the best show, that the bills may be less 
than the estimation abroad. Certainly, if a man will keep but of even 
hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; 
and if Be think to wax rich, but to the third part. It is no baseness 
for the greatest to descend and look into their own estate. Some for- 
bear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to bring themselves 
into melancholy, in respect they shall find it broken. 2 But wounds 
cannot be cured without searching. He that cannot look into his own 
estate at all, had need both choose well those whom he employeth, 
and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle. 
He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behooveth him to turn 
all to certainties. A man bad need, if he be plentiful in some kind 
of expense, to be as saving again in some other. As if he be plentiful 
in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be 
saving in the stable; and the like. For he that is plentiful in ex- 
penses of all kinds will hardly be preserved from decay. In clear- 
ing of a man's estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too sud- 
den, as in letting it run on too long. For hasty selling is commonly 
as disadvantageable as interest. Besides, he that clears at once will 
relapse; for finding himself out of straits, he will revert to his cus- 
toms: but he that cleareth by degrees induceth a habit of frugality, 
and gaineth as well upon his mind as upon his estate. Certainly, 
who hath a state to repair, may not despise small things; and com- 
monly it is less dishonorable to abridge petty charges, than to stoop 
to petty gettings. A man ought warily to begin charges which once 
begun wil1 continue; but in matters that return not he may be more 
magnificent. 


1 Cheating. 


2 Bankrupt. 



OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KINGDOMS 73 


XXIX 


OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KIKGDOMS AND ESTATES 


THE speech of Themistocles the Athenian, which was haughty 
and arrogant in taking so much to himself, had been a grave and 
wise observation and censure, applied at large to others. Desired at 
a feast to touch a lute, he said, He could not fiddle, but yet h
 could 
make a small town a great city. These words (holpen a little with 
a metaphor) may express two differing abilities in those that deal 
in business of estate. For if a true survey be taken of counsellors 
and statesmen, there may be found (though rarely) those which 
can make a small state great, and yet cannot fiddle; as on the other 
side, there will be found a great many that can fiddle very cun- 
ningly, but yet are so far from being able to make a small state 
great, as their gift lieth the other way; to bring a great and flourish- 
ing estate to ruin and decay. And certainly those degenerate arts 
and shifts, whereby many counsellors and governors gain both 
favor with their masters and estimation with the vulgar, deserve 
no better name than fiddling; being things rather pleasing for the 
time, and graceful to themselves only, than tending to the weal and 
advancement of the state which they serve. There are also (no 
doubt) counsellors and governors which may be held sufficient 
(negotiis pares [equals in business]), able to manage affairs, and 
to keep them from precipices and manifest inconveniences; which 
nevertheless are far from the ability to raise and amplify an estate 
in power, means, and fortune. But be the workmen what they may 
be, let us speak of the work; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms 
and estates, and the means thereof. An argument fit for great and 
mighty princes to have in their hand; to the end that neither by 
over-measuring their forces, they leese l themselves in vain enter- 
prises; nor on the other side, by undervaluing them, they descend 
to fearful and pusillanimous counsels. 
The greatness of an estate in bulk and territory doth fall under 
measure; and the greatness of finances and revenue doth fall under 
computation. The population may appear by musters; and the num- 
ber and greatness of cities and towns by cards 2 and maps. But yet 
1 Lose. 2 Charts. 



74 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


there is not any thing amongst civil affairs more subject to error 
than the right valuation and true judgment concerning the power 
and forces of an estate. The kingdom of heaven is compared, not 
to any great kernel or nut, but to a grain of mustard-seed: which 
is one of the least grains, but hath in it a property and spirit hastily 
to get up and spread. So are there states great in territory, and yet 
not apt to enlarge or command; and some that have but a small 
dimension of stem, and yet apt to be the foundations of great 
monarchies. 
Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, goodly races of horse, 
chariots of war, elephants, ordnance, artillery, and the like; all this 
is but a sheep in a lion's skin, except the breed and disposition of 
the people be stout and warlike. Nay, number (itself) in armies 
importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for (as 
Virgil saith) It never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be. The 
army of the Persians in the plains of Arbela was such a vast sea of 
people, as it did somewhat astonish the commanders in Alexander's 
army; who came to him therefore, and wished him to set upon 
them by night; but he answered, He would not pilfer the victory. 
And the defeat was easy. When Tigranes the Armenian, being en- 
camped upon a hill with four hundred thousand men, discovered 
the army of the Romans, being not above fourteen thousand, march- 
ing towards him, he made himself merry with it, and said, Yonder 
men are too many for an embassage, and too few for a fight. But 
before the sun set, he found them enow to give him the chase with 
infinite slaughter. Many are the examples of the great odds between 
number and courage; so that a man may truly make a judgment, 
that the principal point of greatness in any state is to have a race 
of military men. Neither is money the sinews of war (as it is trivi- 
ally3 said), where the sinews of men's arms, in base and effeminate 
people, are failing. For Solon said well to Cræsus (when in ostenta- 
tion he showed him his gold), Sir, if any other come that hath better 
iron than you, he will be master of all this gold. Therefore let any 
prince or state think soberly of his forces, except his militia of natives 
be of good and valiant soldiers. And let princes, on the other side, 
that have subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength; 
3 Commonly. 



OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KINGDOMS 7S 
unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for merce- 
nary forces (which is the help in this case), all examples show that 
whatsoever estate or prince doth rest upon them, he may spread 
his feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after. 
The blessing of Judah and Issachar will never meet; that the 
same people or nation should be both the lion's whelp and the ass 
between burthens; neither will it be, that a people overlaid with 
taxes should ever become valiant and martial. It is true that taxes 
levied by consent of the estate do abate men's courage less: as it 
hath been seen notably in the excises of the Low Countries; and, 
in some degree, in the subsidies of England. For you must note that 
we speak now of the heart and not of the purse. So that although the 
same tribute and tax, laid by consent or by imposing, be all one to 
the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage. So that you 
may conclude, that no people overcharged with tribute is fit for 
empire. 
Let states that aim at greatness take heed how their nobility and 
gentlemen do multiply too fast. For that maketh the common sub- 
ject grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and 
in effect but the gentleman's laborer. Even as you may see in coppice 
woods; if you leave your staddles 4 too thick, you shall never have 
clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes. So in countries, if the 
gentlemen be too many, the commons will be base; and you will 
bring it to that, that not the hundred poll5 will be fit for an helmet; 
especially as to the infantry, which is the nerve 6 of an army; and so 
there will be great population and little strength. This which I 
speak of hath been nowhere better seen than by comparing of Eng- 
land and France; whereof England, though far less in territory and 
population, hath been (nevertheless) an over-match; in regard the 
middle people of England make good soldiers, which the peasants 
of France do not. And herein the device of king Henry the Seventh 
(whereof I have spoken largely in the History of his Life) was pro- 
found and admirable; in making farms and houses of husbandry of 
a standard; that is, maintained with such a proportion of land unto 
them, as may breed a subject to live in convenient plenty and no 
servile condition; and to keep the plough in the hands of the owners, 
4 Young trees left standing. 5 Hundredth head. 6 Sinew. 



76 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
and not mere hirelings. And thus indeed you shall attain to Virgil's 
character which he gives to ancient Italy: 
Terra patens armis atque ubere glebæ. 


[A land powerful in arms and in productiveness of soil.] Neither 
is that state (which, for any thing I know, is almost peculiar to 
England, and hardly to be found anywhere else, except it be per- 
haps in Poland) to be passed over; I mean the state of free servants 
and attendants upon noblemen and gentlemen; which are no ways 
inferior unto the yeomanry for arms. And therefore out of all 
question, the splendor and magnificence and great retinues and 
hospitality of noblemen and gentlemen, received into custom, doth 
much conduce unto martial greatness. Whereas, contrariwise, the 
close and reserved living of noblemen and gentlemen causeth a 
penury of military forces. 
By all means it is to be procured, that the trunk of Nebuchadnez- 
zar's tree 7 of monarchy be great enough to bear the branches and 
the boughs; that is, that the natural subjects of the crown or state 
bear a sufficient proportion to the stranger subjects that they gov- 
ern. Therefore all states that are liberal of naturalization towards 
strangers are fit for empire. For to think that an handful of people 
can, with the greatest courage and policy in the world, embrace too 
large extent of dominion, it may hold for a time, but it will fail 
suddenly. The Spartans were a nice s people in point of naturaliza- 
tion; whereby, while they kept their compass, they stood firm; but 
when they did spread, and their boughs were becomen too great 
for their stem, they became a windfall upon the sudden. Never any 
state was in this point so open to receive strangers into their body 
as were the Romans. Therefore it sorted with them accordingly; 
for they grew to the greatest monarchy. Their manner was to 
grant naturalization (which they called jus civitatis [the right of 
citizenship]), and to grant it in the highest degree; that is, not only 
ius commercii [the right to commercial trade], jus connubii [the 
right to intermarry], jus hæreditatis [the right of inheritance]; but 
also jus suffragii [the right of suffrage], and jus honorum [the right 
of holding office]. And this not to singular persons alone, but like- 
7 Daniel iv. 10. 8 Particular. 



OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KINGDOMS 77 
wise to whole families; yea to cities, and sometimes to nations. Add 
to this their custom of plantation of colonies; whereby the Roman 
plant was removed into the soil of other nations. And putting both 
constitutions together, you will say that it was not the Romans that 
spread upon the world, but it was the world that spread upon the 
Romans; and that was the sure way of greatness. I have marvelled 
sorpetimes at Spain, how they clasp and contain so large dominions 
with so few natural Spaniards; but sure the whole compass of Spain 
is a very great body of a tree; far above Rome and Sparta at the first. 
And besides, though they have not had that usage to naturalize 
liberally, yet they have that which is next to it; that is, to employ 
almost indifferently all nations in their militia of ordinary soldiers; 
yea and sometimes in their highest commands. Nay it seemeth at 
this instant they are sensible of this want of natives; as by the Prag- 
matical Sanction,9 now published, appeareth. 
It is certain that sedentary and within-door arts, and delicate 
manufactures (that require rather the finger than the arm), have in 
their nature a contrariety to a military disposition. And generally) 
all warlike people are a little idle and love danger better than travail. 
Neither must they be too much broken of it, if they shall be pre- 
served in vigor. Therefore it was great advantage in the ancient 
states of Sparta, Athens, Rome, and others, that they had the use of 
slaves, which commonly did rid those manufactures. But that is 
abolished, in greater part, by the Christian law. That which cometh 
nearest to it is to leave those arts chiefly to strangers (which for that 
purpose are the more easily to be received), and to contain the 
principal bulk of the vulgar natives within those three kinds,-tillers 
of the ground; free servants; and handicraftsmen of strong and 
manly arts, as smiths, masons, carpenters, etc.; not reckoning pro- 
fessed soldiers. 
But above all, for empire and greatness, it importeth most, that a 
nation do profess arms as their principal honor, study, and occupa- 
tion. For the things which we formerly have spoken of are but 
habilitations towards arms; and what is habilitation without inten- 
tion and act? Romulus, after his death (as they report or feign), sent 


9 A decree "which gave certain privileges to persons who married, and further 
immunities to those who had six children." 



7 8 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
a present to the Romans, that above all they should intend lO arms; 
and then they should prove the greatest empire of the world. The 
fabric of the state of Sparta was wholly (though not wisely) framed 
and composed to that scope and end. The Persians and Macedonians 
had it for a flash. The Gauls, Germans, Goths, Saxons, Normans, 
and others, had it for a time. The Turks have it at this day, though 
in great declination. Of Christian Europe, they that have it are, in 
effect, only the Spaniards. But it is so plain that every man profiteth 
in that he most intendeth, that it needeth not to be stood upon. It 
is enough to point at it; that no nation which doth not directly 
profess arms may look to have greatness fall into their mouths. And 
on the other side, it is a most certain oracle of time, that those states 
that continue long in that profession (as the Romans and Turks 
principally have done) do wonders. And those that have professed 
arms but for an age, have notwithstanding commonly attained that 
greatness in that age which maintained them long after, when their 
profession and exercise of arms hath grown to decay. 
Incident to this point is, for a state to have those laws or customs 
which may reach forth unto them just occasions (as may be pre- 
tended) of war. For there is that justice imprinted in the nature of 
men, that they enter not upon wars (whereof so many calamities do 
ensue) but upon some, at the least specious, grounds and quarrels. 
The Turk hath at hand, for cause of war, the propagation of his 
law or sect; a quarrel that he may always command. The Romans, 
though they esteemed the extending the limits of their empire to be 
great honor to their generals when it was done, yet they never rested 
upon that alone to begin a war. First therefore, let nations that pre- 
tend to greatness have this; that they be sensible ofll wrongs, either 
upon borderers, merchants, or politic ministers; and that they sit not 
too long upon a provocation. Secondly, let them be prese z and 
ready to give aids and succors to their confederates; as it ever was 
with the Romans; insomuch, as if the confederate had leagues de- 
fensive with divers other states, and, upon invasion offered, did 
implore their aids severally, yet the Romans would ever be the fore- 
most, and leave it to none other to have the honor. As for the wars 
which were anciently made on the behalf of a kind of party, or 
10 Pay attention to. 11 Sensitive to. lZ Prepared. 



OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KINGDOMS 79 
tacit conformity of estate, I do not see how they may be well justi. 
fied: as when the Romans made a war for the liberty of Grecia; or 
when the Lacedæmonians and Athenians made wars to set up or 
pull down democracies and oligarchies; or when wars were made by 
foreigners, under the pretence of justice or protection, to deliver the 
subjects of others from tyranny and oppression; and the like. Let it 
suffice, that no estate expect to be great, that is not awake upon any 
just occasion of arming. 
No body can be healthful without exercise, neither natural body 
nor politic; and certainly to a kingdom or estate, a just and honor
 
able war is the true exercise. A civil war, indeed, is like the heat of 
a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth 
to keep the body in health; for in a slothful peace, both courages 
will effeminate and manners corrupt. But howsoever it be for 
happiness, without all question, for greatness it maketh, to be still 
for the most part in arms; and the strength of a veteran army 
(though it be a chargeable business) always on foot is that which 
commonly giveth the law, or at least the reputation, amongst all 
neighbor states; as may well be seen in Spain, which hath had, in 
one part or other, a veteran army almost continually, now by the 
space of six score years. 
To be master of the sea is an abridgmene 3 of a monarchy. Cicero, 
writing to Atticus of Pompey his preparation against Cæsar, saith, 
Consilium Pompeii plane Themistocleum est; putat enim, qui mar; 
potitur, cum rerum potiri [Pompey is going upon the policy of 
Themistocles; thinking that he who commands the sea commands 
all]. And, without doubt, Pompey had tired out Cæsar, if upon 
vain confidence he had not left that way. We see the great effects 
of battles by sea. The battle of Actium decided the empire of the 
world. The battle of Lepanto arrested the greatness of the Turk. 
There be many examples where sea-fights have been final to the 
war; but this is when princes or states have set up their rest upon 
the battles. But thus much is certain, that he that commands the 
sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war 
as he will. Whereas those that be strongest by land are many times 
nevertheless in great straits. Surely, at this day, with us of Europe, 
13 CIA monarchy in miniature." 



80 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
the vantage of strength at sea (which is one of the principal dowries 
of this kingdom of Great Britain) is great; both because most of 
the kingdoms of Europe are not merely inland, but girt with the sea 
most part of their compass; and because the wealth of both Indies 
seems in great part but an accessory to the command of the seas. 
The wars of latter ages seem to be made in the dark, in respect 
of the glory and honor which reflected upon men from the wars in 
ancient time. There be now, for martial encouragement, some de- 
grees and orders of chivalry; which nevertheless are conferred 
promiscuously upon soldiers and no soldiers; and some remem- 
brance perhaps upon the scutcheon; and some hospitals for maimed 
soldiers; and such like things. But in ancient times, the trophies 
erected upon the place of the victory; the funeral laudatives and 
monuments for those that died in the wars; the crowns and garlands 
personal; the style of emperor, which the great kings of the world 
after borrowed; the triumphs of the generals upon their return; the 
great donatives and largesses upon the disbanding of the armies; 
were things able to inflame all men's courages. But above all, that 
of the triumph, amongst the Romans, was not pageants or gaudery, 
but one of the wisest and noblest institutions that ever was. For it 
contained three things: honor to the general; riches to the treasury 
out of the spoils; and donatives to the army. But that honor per- 
haps were not fit for monarchies; except it be in the person of the 
monarch himself, or his sons; as it came to pass in the times of the 
Roman emperors, who did impropriate the actual triumphs to them- 
selves and their sons, for such wars as they did achieve in person; and 
left only, for wars achieved by subjects, some triumphal garments 
and ensigns to the general. 
To conclude: no man can by care taking (as the Scripture saith) 
add a cubit to his stature, in this little model of a man's body; but 
in the great frame of kingdoms and commonwealths, it is in the 
power of princes or estates to add amplitude and greatness to their 
kingdoms; for by introducing such ordinances, constitutions, and 
customs, as we have now touched, they may sow greatness to their 
posterity and succession. But these things are commonly not 
observed, but left to take their chance. 



OF REGIMENT IDF HEALTH 


81 


xxx 


OF REGIMENT OF HEALTII 


THERE is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic: a man's 
own observation, what he finds good of, and what he finds hurt of, 
is the best physic to preserve health. But it is a safer conclusion to 
say, This agreeth not well with me, tlzerefore I will not continue it; 
than this, I find no offence of this, therefore I may use it. For 
strength of nature in youth passeth over many excesses, which are 
owing a man till his age. Discern of the coming on of years, and 
think not to do the same things still; for age will not be defied. 
Beware of sudden change in any great point of diet, and if necessity 
inforce it, fit the rest to it. For it is a secret both in nature and 
state, that it is safer to change many things than one. Examine 
thy customs of diet, sleep, exercise, apparel, and the like; and try, 
in any thing thou shalt judge hurtful, to discontinue it by little and 
little; but so, as if thou dost find any inconvenience by the change, 
thou come back to it again: for it is hard to distinguish that which 
is generally held good and wholesome, from that which is good 
particularly, and fit for thine own body. To be free-minded and 
cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and of sleep and of exercise, 
is one of the best precepts of long lasting. As for the passions and 
studies of the mind; avoid envy; anxious fears; anger fretting in- 
wards; subtle and knotty inquisitions; joys and exhilarations in 
excess; sadness not communicated. Entertain hopes; mirth rather 
than joy; variety of delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder 
and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind 
with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and con- 
templations of nature. If you fly physic in health altogether, it will 
be too strange for your body when you shaH need it. If you make 
it too familiar, it will work no extraordinary effect when sickness 
cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons, than fre- 
quent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom. For those 
diets alter the body more and trouble it less. Despise no new acci- 
dent in your body, but ask opinion of it. In sickness, respect health 
principally; and in health, action. For those that put their bodies 



82 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


to endure in health, may in most sicknesses, which are not very 
sharp, be cured only with diet and tendering. 1 Celsus could never 
have spoken it as a physician, had he not been a wise man withal, 
when he giveth it for one of the great precepts of health and lasting, 
that a man do vary and interchange contraries, but with an inclina- 
tion to the more benign extreme: use fasting and full eating, but 
rather full eating; watching and sleep, but rather sleep; sitting and 
exercise, but rather exercise; and the like. So shall nature be cher- 
ished, and yet taught masteries. Physicians are some of them so 
pleasing and conformable to the humor of the patient, as they press 
not the true cure of the disease; and some other are so regular in 
proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not suffi- 
ciently the condition of the patient. Take one of a middle temper; 
or if it may not be found in one man, combine two of either sort; 
and forget not to call as well the best acquainted with your body, 
as the best reputed of for his faculty.2 


XXXI 


OF SUSPICION 


SUSPICIONS amongst thoughts are lik
 bats amongst birds, they 
ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least 
well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese 1 friends; and 
they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently 
and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, 
wise men to irresolution and melancholy. They are defects, not 
in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutese 
natures; as in the example of Henry the Seventh of England. There 
was not a more suspicious man, nor a more stout. And in such a 
composition they do small hurt. For commonly they are not ad- 
mitted, but with examination, whether they be likely or no. But in 
fearful natures they gain ground too fast. There is nothing makes 
a man suspect much, more than to know little; and therefore men 
should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not to 
keep their suspicions in smother. 3 What would men have? Do they 
think those they employ and deal with are saints? Do they not 
1 Nursing. 2 Ability. 1 Lose. 2 Bravest. 3 Suppressed. 



OF DISCOURSE 


83 


think they will have their own ends, and be truer to themselves than 
to them? Therefore there is no better way to moderate suspicions, 
than to account upon such suspicions as true and yet to bridle them 
as false. For so far a man ought to make use of suspicions, as to 
provide, as if that should be true that he suspects, yet it may do him 
no hurt. Suspicions that the mind of itself gathers are but buzzes; but 
suspicions that are artificially nourished, and put into men's heads by 
the tales and whisperings of others, have stings. Certainly, the best 
mean to clear the way in this same wood of suspicions is frankly 
to communicate them with the party that he suspects; for thereby 
he shall be sure to know more of the truth of them than he did 
before; and withal shall make that party more circumspect not to 
give further cause of suspicion. But this would not be done to men 
of base natures; for they, if they find themselves once suspected, will 
never be true. The Italian says, Sospetto licentia fede;4 as if suspicion 
did give a passport to faith; but it ought rather to kindle it to 
discharge itself. 


XXXII 


OF DISCOURSE 


SOME in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in 
being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning 
what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and 
not what should be thought. Some have certain common places 
and themes wherein they are good, and want variety; which kind of 
poverty is for the most part tedious, and when it is once perceived, 
ridiculous. The honorablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and 
again to moderate 1 and pass to somewhat else; for then a man leads 
the dance. It is good, in discourse and speech of conversation, to 
vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, 
tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and 
jest with earnest: for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, 
to jade,2 any thing too far. As for jest, there be certain things which 
ought to be privileged from it; namely, religion, matters of state, 


41. e.. suspicion justifies breaking faith. 1 Guide the discussion. 
2 Tire with overdriving. 



84 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any 
case that deserveth pity. Yet there be some that think their wits have 
been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant, and to 
the quick. That is a vein which would be bridled: 


Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris. 


[Spare, boy, the whip and tighter hold the reins.] And generally, 
men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. 
Certainly, he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid 
of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that 
questioneth much shall learn much, and content much; but espe- 
cially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he 
asketh; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speak- 
ing, and himself shall continually gather knowledge. But let his 
questions not be troublesome; for that is fit for a poser. 3 And let 
him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak. Nay, if there 
be any that would reign and take up all the time, let him find means 
to take them off, and to bring others on; as musicians use to do with 
those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your 
knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought 
another time to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self 
ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one was wont to 
say in scorn, He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of 
himself: and there is but one case wherein a man may commend 
himself with good grace; and that is in commending virtue in 
another; especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pre- 
tendeth. Speech of touch 4 towards others should be sparingly used; 
for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any 
man. I knew two noblemen, of the west part of England, whereof 
the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; 
the other would ask of those that had been at the other's table, 
Tell truly was there never a flout or dry blows given? To which the 
guest would answer, Such and such a thing passed. The lord would 
say, I thought he would mar a good dinner. Discretion of speech is 
more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him with whom we 
deal, is more than to speak in good words or in good order. A good 
3 Examiner. 4 Personal, touching a sore spot. 5 Scornful jest. 



OF PLANTATIONS 85 
continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows 
slowness: and a good reply or second speech, without a good settled 
speech, showeth shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that 
those that are weakest in the course are yet nimblest in the turn; 
as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many cir- 
cumstances ere one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none at 
all, is blunt. 


XXXIII 


OF PLANTATIONS 1 


PLANTo\TIONS are amongst ancient, primitive, and heroical works. 
When the world was young it begat more children; but now it is 
old it begets fewer: for I may justly account new plantations to be 
the children of former kingdoms. I like a plantation in a pure soil; 
that is, where people are not displanted to the end to plant in others. 
For else it is rather an extirpation than a plantation. Planting of 
countries is like planting of woods; for you must make account to 
leese 2 almost twenty years' profit, and expect your recompense in 
the end. For the principal thing that hath been the destruction of 
most plantations, hath been the base and hasty drawing of profit in 
the first years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be neglected, as far 
as may stand with the good of the plantation, but no further. It is 
a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of people, and 
wicked condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant; and 
not only so, but it spoileth the plantation; for they will ever live like 
rogues, and not fall to work, but be lazy, and do mischief, and spend 
victuals, and be quickly weary, and then certif y 3 over to their country 
to the discredit of the plantation. The people wherewith you plant 
ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, laborers, smiths, carpenters, 
joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, 
cooks, and bakers. In a country of plantation, first look about what 
kind of victual the country yields of itself to hand; as chestnuts, 
walnuts, pineapples, olives, dates, plums, cherries, wild honey, and 
the like; and make use of them. Then consider what victual or 
esculent things there are, which grow speedily, and within the year; 
as parsnips, carrots, turnips, onions, radish, artichokes of Hierusalem, 
1 Colonies. 2 Lose. 3 Send word. 



86 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
maize, and the like. For wheat, barley, and oats, they ask too much 
labor; but with pease and beans you may begin, both because they 
ask less labor, and because they serve for meat as well as for bread. 
And of rice likewise cometh a great increase, and it is a kind of meat. 
Above all, there ought to be brought store of biscuit, oat-meal, flour, 
meal, and the like, in the beginning, till bread may be had. For 
beasts, or birds, take chiefly such as are least subject to diseases, and 
multiply fastest; as swine, goats, cocks, hens, turkeys, geese, house- 
doves, and the like. The victual in plantations ought to be expended 
almost as in a besieged town; that is, with certain allowance. And 
let the main part of the ground employed to gardens or corn, be to a 
common stock; and to be laid in, and stored up, and then delivered 
out in proportion; besides some spots of ground that any particular 
person will manure for his own private. Consider likewise what 
commodities the soil where the plantation is doth naturally yield, 
that they may some way help to defray the charge of the plantation 
(so it be not, as was said, to the untimely prej udice of the main 
business), as it hath fared with tobacco in Virginia. Wood com- 
monly aboundeth but too much; and therefore timber is fit to be one. 
If there be iron ore, and streams whereupon to set the mills, iron is 
a brave 4 commodity where wood aboundeth. Making of bay-salt, 
if the climate be proper for it, would be put in experience. Growing 
silk likewise, if any be, is a likely commodity. Pitch and tar, where 
store of firs and pines are, will not fail. So drugs and sweet woods, 
where they are, cannot but yield great profit. Soap-ashes likewise, 
and other things that may be thought of. But moils not too much 
under ground; for the hope of mines is very uncertain, and useth to 
make the planters lazy in other things. F or government, let it be 
in the hands of one, assisted with some counsel; and let them have 
commission to exercise martial laws, with some limitation. And 
above all, let men make that profit of being in the wilderness, as 
they have God always, and his service, before their eyes. Let not 
the government of the plantation depend upon too many counsel- 
lors and undertakers in the country that planteth, but upon a tem- 
perate number; and let those be rather noblemen and gentlemen, 
than merchants; for they look ever to the present gain. Let there be 
4 Fine. 5 Drudge. 



OF RICHES 87 
freedom from custom,6 till the plantation be of strength; and not 
only freedom from custom, but freedom to carry their commodities 
where they may make their best of them, except there be some 
special cause of caution. Cram not in people, by sending too fast 
company after company; but rather harken how they waste, and 
send supplies proportionably; but so as the number may live well in 
the plantation, and not by surcharge 7 be in penury. It hath been a 
great endangering to the health of some plantations, that they have 
built along the sea and rivers, in marish and unwholesome grounds. 
Therefore, though you begin there, to avoid carriage and other like 
discommodities, yet build still rather upwards from the streams than 
along. It concerneth likewise the health of the plantation that they 
have good store of salt with them, that they may use it in their 
victuals, when it shall be necessary. If you plant where savages are, 
do not only entertain them with trifles and gingles, but use them 
justly and graciously, with sufficient guard nevertheless; and do 
not win their favor by helping them to invade their enemies, but for 
their defence it is not amiss; and send oft of them over to the country 
that plants, that they may see a better condition than their own, and 
commend it when they return. When the plantation grows to 
strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men; 
that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever 
pieced from without. It is the sinfullest thing in the world to for- 
sake or destitute a plantation once in forwardness; for besides the 
dishonor, it is the guiltiness of blood of many commiserable 8 persons. 


XXXIV 


OF RICHES 


I CANNOT call riches better than the baggage of virtue. The Roman 
word is better, impedimenta. For as the baggage is to an army, so 
is riches to virtue. It cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hinder- 
eth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturb- 
eth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in 
the distribution; the rest is but conceit. So saith Solomon, Where 
much is, there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner 
6 Duties on imports and exports. 7 Overloading. 8 Deserving pity. 



88 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


but the sight of it with his eyes? The personal fruition in any man 
cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them; or a 
power of dole and donative of them; or a fame of them; but no 
solid use to the owner. Do you not see what feigned prices are set 
upon little stones and rarities? and what works of ostentation are 
undertaken, because there might seem to be some use of great riches? 
But then you will say, they may be of use to buy men out of dangers 
or troubles. As Solomon saith, Riches are as a strong hold, in the 
imagination of the rich man. But this is excellently expressed, that 
it is in imagination, and not always in fact. For certainly great riches 
have sold more men than they have bought out. Seek not proud 
riches, but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute 
cheerfully, and leave contentedly. Yet have no abstract nor friarly 
contempt of them. But distinguish, as Cicero saith well of Rabirius 
Posthumus, In studio rei amplificandæ apparebat, non avaritiæ 
prædam, sed instrumentum bonitati quæri l In seeking to increase 
his estate it was apparent that he sought not a prey for avarice to 
feed on, but an instrument for goodness to work with]. Harken 
also to Solomon, and beware of hasty gathering of riches; Qui 
festinat ad divitias, non erit insons [He that maketh haste to be rich 
shall not be innocent]. The poets feign, that when PI utus (which is 
Riches) is sent from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when 
he is sent from Pluto, he runs and is swift of foot. Meaning that 
riches gotten by good means and just labor pace slowly; but when 
they come by the death of others (as by the course of inheritance, 
testaments, and the like), they come tumbling upon a man. But it 
mought be applied likewise to Pluto, taking him for the devil. For 
when riches come from the devil (as by fraud and oppression and 
unjust means), they come upon speed. The ways to enrich are many, 
and most of them foul. Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is 
not innocent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberality and 
charity. The improvement of the ground is the most natural obtain- 
ing of riches; for it is our great mother's blessing, the earth's; but 
it is slow. And yet where men of great wealth do stoop to husbandry, 
it multiplieth riches exceedingly. I knew a nobleman in England, 
that had the greatest audits 1 of any man in my time; a great grazier, 
1 Revenues. 



OF RICHES 


89 


a great sheep-master, a great timber man, a great collier, a great 
corn-master, a great lead-man, and so of iron, and a number of the 
like points of husbandry. So as the earth seemed a sea to him, in 
respect of the perpetual importation. It was truly observed by one, 
that himself came very hardly to a little riches, and very easily to 
great riches. For when a man's stock is come to that, that he can 
expect the prime of markets, and overcome those bargains which for 
their greatness are few men's money, and be partner in the industries 
of younger men, he cannot but increase mainly. The gains of ordi- 
nary trades and vocations are honest; and furthered by two things 
chiefly: by diligence, and by a good name for good and fair deal- 
ing. But the gains of bargains are of a more doubtful nature; when 
men shall wait upon 2 others' necessity, broke 3 by servants and instru- 
ments to draw them on, put off others cunningly that would be better 
chapmen/ and the like practices, which are crafty and naught. As for 
the chopping of bargains, when a man buys not to hold but to sell 
over again, that commonly grindeth double, both upon the seller 
and upon the buyer. Sharings do greatly enrich, if the hands be well 
chosen that are trusted. Usury is the certainest means of gain, though 
one of the worst; as that whereby a man doth eat his bread in sudore 
vultus alieni [in the sweat of another man's face]; and besides, doth 
plough upon Sundays. But yet certain though it be, it hath flaws; 
for that the scriveners and brokers do value 5 unsound men to serve 
their own turn. The fortune in being the first in an invention or in 
a privilege doth cause sometimes a wonderful overgrowth in riches; 
as it was with the first sugar man in the Canaries. Therefore if a 
man can play the true logician, to have as well judgment as inven- 
tion, he may do great matters; especially if the times be fit. He 
that resteth upon gains certain shall hardly grow to great riches; and 
he that puts all upon adventures doth oftentimes break and come 
to poverty: it is good therefore to guard adventures with certainties, 
that may uphold losses. Monopolies, and coemption of6 wares for 
re-sale, where they are not restrained, are great means to enrich; 
especially if the party have intelligence what things are like to come 
into request, and so store himself beforehand. Riches gotten by 
2 Watch for. 3 Deal. 4 Traders. 5 Represent as sound. 
6 Buying up. 



90 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
service, though it be of the best rise,7 yet when they are gotten by 
flattery, feeding humors, and other servile conditions, they may be 
placed amongst the worst. As for fishing for testaments and ex- 
ecutorships ( as Tacitus saith of Seneca, testamenta et orbos tamquam 
indagine capi [he took testaments and wardships as with a net]), 
it is yet worse; by how much men submit themselves to meaner per- 
sons than in service. Believe not much them that seem to despise 
riches; for they despise them that despair of them; and none worse 
when they come to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings, 
and sometimes they flyaway of themselves, sometimes they must 
be set flying to bring in more. Men leave their riches either to their 
kindred, or to the public; and moderate portions prosper best in both. 
A great state left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey 
round about to seize on him, if he be not the better stablished in 
years and judgment. Likewise glorious 8 gifts and foundations are 
like sacrifices without salt; and but the painted sepulchres of alms, 
which soon will putrefy and corrupt inwardly. Therefore measure 
not thine advancements by quantity, but frame them by measure: 
and defer not charities till death; for, certainly, if a man weigh it 
rightly, he that doth so is rather liberal of another man's than of 
his own. 


xxxv 


OF PROPHECIES 


I MEAN not to speak of divine prophecies; nor of heathen oracles; 
nor of natural predictions; but only of prophecies that have been of 
certain memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the Pythonissa 1 to 
Saul, To-morrow thou and thy son shall be with me. Homer hath 
these verses: 


At domus Æneæ cunctis dominabitur oris, 
Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis. 


[But the house of Æneas shall reign in all lands, and his children's 
children, and their generations.] A prophecy, as it seems, of the 
Roman empire. Seneca the tragedian hath these verses: 
7 Latin, though it have a certain dignity. 8 Showy. 1 Witch of Endor. 



OF PROPHECIES 


9 1 


- Venient annis 
Sæcula seris, quibus Oceanus 
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens 
Pateat Tellus, Tiphysque novos 
Detegat orbes; nec sit terris 
Ultima Thule 


[There shall come a time when the oonds of ocean shall be loosened, 
and the vast earth shall be laid open; another Tiphys shall disclose 
new worlds, and lands shall be seen beyond Thule]: a prophecy of 
the discovery of America. The daughter of Polycrates dreamed that 
Jupiter bathed her father, and Apollo anointed him; and it came 
to pass that he was crucified in an open place, where the sun made 
his body run with sweat, and the rain washed it. Philip of Macedon 
dreamed he sealed up his wife's belly; whereby he did expound it, 
that his wife should be barren; but Aristander the soothsayer told 
him his wife was with child, because men do not use to seal vessels 
that are empty. A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus in his tent, 
said to him, Philippis iterum me videbis [Thou shall see me again 
at Philippi]. Tiberius said to Galba, T u quoque, Calba, degustabis 
impaium [Thou likewise, Galba, shall taste of empire]. In Ves- 
pasian's time, there went a prophecy in the East, that those that 
should come forth of J udea should reign over the world: which 
though it may be was meant of our Savior; yet Tacitus expounds it 
of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the night before he was slain, 
that a golden head was growing out of the nape of his neck: and 
indeed the succession that followed him for many years, made 
golden times. Henry the Sixth of England said of Henry the Sev- 
enth, when he was a lad, and gave him water, This is the lad that 
shall enjoy the crown for which we strive. When I was in France, 
I heard from one Dr. Pena, that the Queen Mother, who was given 
to curious arts, caused the King her husband's nativity to be calcu- 
lated, under a false name; and the astrologer gave a judgment, that 
he should be killed in a duel; at which the Queen laughed, think- 
ing her husband to be above challenges and duels: but he was slain 
upon a course at tilt, the splinters of the staff of Montgomery going 
in at his beaver. 2 The trivial 3 prophecy, which I heard when I was 
2 The movable face part of a helmet. i Common. 



92 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
a child, and Queen Elizabeth was in the flower of her years, was, 
When hempe is spun 
England's done: 
whereby it was generally conceived, that after the princes had 
reigned which had the principal letters of that word hempe (which 
were Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England should 
come to utter confusion; which, thanks be to God, is verified only 
in the change of the name; for that the King's style 4 is now no more 
of England, but of Britain. There was also another prophecy, before 
the year of '88, which I do not well understand. 
There shall be seen upon a day, 
Between the Baugh and the May, 
The black fleet of Norway. 
When that that is come and gone, 
England build houses of lime and stone, 
For after wars shall you have none. 
It was generally conceived to be meant of the Spanish fleet that 
came in '88: for that the king of Spain's surname, as they say, is 
Norway. The prediction of Regiomontanus, 
Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus 
[The eighty-eighth, a year of wonders], was thought likewise ac- 
complished in the sending of that great fleet, being the greatest in 
strength, though not in number, of all that ever swam upon the 
sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a jest. It was, that he was 
devoured of a long dragon; and it was expounded of a maker of 
sausages, that troubled him exceedingly. There are numbers of the 
like kind; especially if you include dreams, and predictions of astrol- 
ogy. But I have set down these few only of certain credit, for 
example. My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised; and 
ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside. Though when I 
say despised, I mean it as for belief; for otherwise, the spreading or 
publishing of them is in no sort to be despised. For they have done 
much mischief; and I see many severe laws made to suppress them. 
That that hath given them grace, and some credit, consisteth in three 
things. First, that men mark when they hit, and never mark when 
4 Title. 



OF AMBITION 93 
they miss; as they do generally also of dreams. The second is, that 
probable conjectures, or obscure traditions, many times turn them- 
selves into prophecies; while the nature of man, which coveteth 
divination, thinks it no peril to foretell that which indeed they do 
but collect. 5 As that of Seneca's verse. For so much was then sub- 
ject to demonstration, that the globe of the earth had great parts 
beyond the Atlantic, which mought be probably conceived not to be 
all sea: and adding thereto the tradition in Plato's Timæus, and his 
Atlanticus, it mought encourage one to turn it to a prediction. The 
third and last (which is the great one) is, that almost all of them, 
being infinite in number, have been impostures, and by idle and 
crafty brains merely contrived and feigned after the event past. 


XXXVI 


OF AMBITION 


AMBITION is like choler; which is an humor 1 that maketh men 
active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped. But 
if it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust,2 and 
thereby malign and venomous. So ambitious men, if they find the 
way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy 
than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become 
secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil 
eye, and are best pleased when things go backward; which is the 
worst property in a servant of a prince or state. Therefore it is good 
for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it so as they be 
still progressive and not retrograde; which because it cannot be 
without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all. For 
if they rise not with their service, they will take order to make their 
service fall with them. But since we have said it were good not to 
use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit 
we speak in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders in 
the wars must be taken, be they never so ambitious; for the use of 
their service dispenseth with the rest; and to take a soldier without 
s Infer. 1 According to the old physiology, the body contained four humors--blood, 
phlegm, choler (red bile), melancholy (black bile)-the varying combination of which 
determined the individual temperament. 2 Scorched, overheated. 



94 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
ambition is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of ambitious 
men in being screens to princes in matters of danger and envy; for 
no man will take that part, except he be like a seeled 3 dove, that 
mounts and mounts because he cannot see about him. There is use 
also of ambitious men in pulling down the greatness of any sub- 
ject that overtops; as Tiberius used Macro in the pulling down of 
Sejanus. Since therefore they must be used in such cases, there 
resteth to speak how they are to be bridled, that they may be less 
dangerous. There is less danger of them if they be of mean birth, 
than if they be noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than 
gracious and popular: and if they be rather new raised, than grown 
cunning and fortified in their greatness. It is counted by some a 
weakness in princes to have favorites; but it is of all others the best 
remedy against ambitious great-ones. For when the way of pleasur- 
ing and displeasuring lieth by the favorite, it is impossible any other 
should be over-great. Another means to curb them is to balance 
them by others as proud as they. But then there must be some 
middle counsellors, to keep things steady; for without that ballast 
the ship will roll too much. At the least, a prince may animate and 
inure 4 some meaner persons, to be as it were scourges to ambitious 
men. As for the having of them obnoxious 5 to ruin; if they be of 
fearful natures, it may do well; but if they be stout and daring, it 
may precipitate their designs, and prove dangerous. As for the 
pulling of them down, if the affairs reg uire it, and that it may not 
be done with safety suddenly, the only way is the interchange con- 
tinually of favors and disgraces; whereby they may not know what 
to expect, and be as it were in a wood. 6 Of ambitions, it is less harm- 
ful, the ambition to prevail in great things, than that other, to 
appear in every thing; for that breeds confusion, and mars business. 
But yet it is less dangerous to have an ambitious man stirring in 
business, than great in dependences. He that seeketh to be eminent 
amongst able men hath a great task; but that is ever good for the 
public. But he that plots to be the only figure amongst ciphers is 
the decay of a whole age. Honor hath three things in it: the van- 
tage ground to do good; the approach to kings and principal per- 
sons; and the raising of a man's own fortunes. He that hath the 
3 With the eyelids sewed together. 4 Accustom. 5 Liable. 6 Maze. 



OF MASQUES AND TRIUMPHS 9S 
best of these intentions, when he aspireth, is an honest man; and 
that prince that can discern of these intentions in another that aspir- 
eth, is a wise prince. Generally, let princes and states choose such 
ministers as are more sensible of duty than of rising; and such as 
love business rather upon conscience than upon bravery,7 and let them 
discern a busy nature from a willing mind. 


XXXVII 


OF MASQUES AND TRIUMPHS 


THESE things are but toys, to come amongst such serious observa- 
tions. But yet, since princes will have such things, it is better they 
should be graced with elegancy than daubed with cost. Dancing 
to song is a thing of great state and pleasure. I understand it, that 
the song be in quire, placed aloft, and accompanied with some 
broken music;1 and the ditty fitted to the device. Acting in song, 
especially in dialogues, hath an extreme good grace; I say acting, not 
dancing (for that is a mean and vulgar thing); and the voices of 
the dialogue would be strong and manly (a base and a tenor; no 
treble); and the ditty high and tragical; not nice or dainty. Several 
quires, placed one over against another, and taking the voice by 
catches, anthem-wise, give great pleasure. Turning dances into 
figure is a childish curiosity. And generally let it be noted, that 
those things which I here set down are such as do naturally take the 
sense, and not respect petty wonderments. It is true, the alterations 
of scenes, so it be quietly and without noise, are things of great 
beauty and pleasure; for they feed and relieve the eye, before it be 
full of the same object. Let the scenes abound with light, specially 
colored and varied; and let the masquers, or any other, that are to 
come down from the scene, have some motions upon the scene 
itself before their coming down; for it draws the eye strangely, and 
makes it with great pleasure to desire to see that it cannot perfectly 
discern. Let the songs be loud and cheerful, and not chirpings or 
pulings. Let the music likewise be sharp and loud, and well placed. 
The colors that show best by candle-light are white, carnation, and 
7 Ostentation. 1 Part music, for different instruments. 



96 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


a kind of sea-water-green; and oes,! or spangs, as they are of no 
great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich embroidery, it is 
lost and not discerned. Let the suits of the masquers be graceful, 
and such as become the person when the vizors are off; not after 
examples of known attires ; Turks, soldiers, mariners, and the like. 
Let anti-masques not be long; they have been commonly of fools, 
satyrs, baboons, wild-men, antics,3 beasts, sprites, witches, Ethiops, 
pigmies, turquets,4 nymphs, rustics, Cupids, statuas moving, and the 
like. As for angels, it is not comical enough to put them in anti- 
masques; and anything that is hideous, as devils, giants, is on the 
other side as unfit. But chiefly, let the music of them be recreative, 
and with some strange changes. Some sweet odors suddenly com- 
ing forth, without any drops falling, are, in such a company as there 
is steam and heat, things of great pleasure and refreshment. Double 
masques, one of men, another of ladies, addeth state and variety. 
But all is nothing except the room be kept clear and neat. 
For justs, and tourneys, and barriers; the glories of them are chiefly 
in the chariots, wherein the challengers make their entry; especially 
if they be drawn with strange beasts: as lions, bears, camels, and 
the like; or in the devices of their entrance; or in the bravery of 
their liveries; or in the goodly furniture of their horses and armor. 
But enough of these toys. 


XXXVIII 


OF NATURE IN MEN 


NATURE is often hidden; sometimes overcome; seldom extin- 
guished. Force maketh nature more violent in the return;1 doctrine 
and discourse maketh nature less importune; but custom only doth 
alter and subdue nature. He that seeketh victory over his nature, 
let him not set himself too great nor too small tasks; for the first 
will make him dejected by often failings; and the second will make 
him a small proceeder, though by often prevailings. And at the 
first let him practise with helps, as swimmers do with bladders or 
rushes; but after a time let him practise with disadvantages, as 
2 Round spangles. 3 Clowns. 4 Turkish dwarfs. I Reaction. 



OF NATURE IN MEN 97 
dancers do with thick shoes. For it breeds great perfection, if the 
practice be harder than the use. Where nature is mighty, and there- 
fore the victory hard, the degrees had need be, first to stay and arrest 
nature in time; like to him that would say over the four and twenty 
letters when he Ylas angry; then to go less in quantity; as if one 
should, in forbearing wine, come from drinking healths to a draught 
at a meal; and lastly, to discontinue altogether. But if a man have 
the fortitude and resolution to enfranchise himself at once, that is 
the best: 


Optimus ille animi vindex lædentia pectus 
Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel. 


[Wouldst thou be free? The chains that gall thy breast 
With one strong effort burst, and be at rest.] 


Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature as a wand to a 
contrary extreme, whereby to set it right, understanding it, where 
the contrary extreme is no uice. Let not a man force a habit upon 
himself with a perpetual continuance, but with some intermission. 
For both the pause reinforceth the new onset; and if a man that is 
not perfect be ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors as 
his abilities, and induce one habit of both; and there is no means 
to help this but by seasonable intermissions. But let not a man trust 
his victory over his nature too far; for nature will lay buried a great 
time, and yet revive upon the occasion or temptation. Like as it 
was with Æsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat 
very demurely at the board's end, till a mouse ran before her. There- 
fore let a man either avoid the occasion altogether; or put himself 
often to it, that he may be little moved with it. A man's nature 
is best perceived in privateness, for there is no affectation; in passion, 
for that putteth a man out of his precepts; and in a new case or 
experiment, for there custom leaveth him. They are happy men 
whose natures sort with their vocations; otherwise they may say, 
multum in cola fuit anima mea [my soul hath been long a s0- 
journer]; when they converse in those things they do not affect. In 
studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon himself, let him set 
hours for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let him take 



98 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
no care for any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it of them- 
selves; so as the spaces of other business or studies will suffice. A 
man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him season 
ably water the one, and destroy the other. 


XXXIX 


OF CUSTOM AND EDUCATION 


MEN'S thoughts are much according to their inclination; their 
discourse and speeches according to their learning and infused opin- 
ions; but their deeds are after as they have been accustomed. And 
therefore, as Machiavel well noteth (though in an evil-favored in- 
stance), there is no trusting to the force of nature nor to the bravery 
of words, except it be corroborate 1 by custom. His instance is, that 
for the achieving of a desperate conspiracy, a man should not rest 
upon the fierceness of any man's nature, or his resolute undertak- 
ings; but take such an one as hath had his hands formerly in blood. 
But Machiavel knew not of a Friar Clement, nor a Ravillac, nor a 
Jaureguy, nor a Baltazar Gerard; yet his rule holdeth still that na- 
ture, nor the engagement of words, are not so forcible as custom. 
Only superstition is now so well advanced, that men of the first 
blood are as firm as butchers by occupation; and votary2 resolution 
is made equipollene to custom even in matter of blood. In other 
things the predominancy of custom is everywhere visible; insomuch 
as a man would wonder to hear men profess, protest, engage, give 
great words, and then do just as they have done before; as if they 
were dead images, and engines moved only by the wheels of cus- 
tom. We see also the reign or tyranny of custom, what it is. The 
Indians (I mean the sect of their wise men) lay themselves quietly 
upon a stack of wood, and so sacrifice themselves by fire. Nay the 
wives strive to be burned with the corpses of their husbands. The 
lads of Sparta, of ancient time, were wont to be scourged upon the 
altar of Diana, without so much as queching. 4 I remember, in the 
beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time of England, an Irish rebel 
condemned, put up a petition to the deputy that he might be 
I Strengthened. 2 Based on a vow. 3 Equally powerful. 4 Flinching. 



OF FORTUNE 99 
hanged in a withe, and not in an halter; because it had been so 
used with former rebels. There be monks in Russia, for penance, 
that will sit a whole night in a vessel of water, till they be engaged 
with hard ice. Many examples may be put of the force of custom, 
both upon mind and body. Therefore, since custom is the princi- 
pal magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavor to ob- 
tain good customs. Certainly custom is most perfect when it be- 
ginneth in young years: this we call education; which is, in effect, 
but an early custom. So we see, in languages the tongue is more 
pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple to 
all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. For it 
is true that late learners cannot so well take the ply; except it be 
in some minds that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have 
kept themselves open and prepared to receive continual amend- 
ment, which is exceeding rare. But if the force of custom simple 
and separate be great, the force of custom copulate and conjoined 
and collegiate is far greater. For there example teacheth, company 
comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth: so as in such places 
the force of custom is in his exaltation. 5 Certainly the great multi- 
plication of virtues upon human nature resteth upon societies well 
ordained and disciplined. For commonwealths and good govern- 
ments do nourish virtue grown, but do not much mend the seeds. 
But the misery is, that the most effectual means are now applied to 
the ends least to be desired. 


XL 


OF FORTUNE 


IT cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to for- 
tune; favor, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue. 
But chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. 
Faber quisque fortunæ suæ [Everyone is the architect of his own 
fortune], saith the poet. And the most frequent of external causes 
is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another. For no man 
prospers so suddenly as by others' errors.. Serpens nisi serpentem 
5 At its height. 



100 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


comederit non fit draco [A serpent must have eaten another serpent 
before he can become a dragon]. Overt and apparent virtues bring 
forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring 
forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no 
name. The Spanish name, desemboltura [facility in expression], 
partly expresseth them; when there be not stonds. nor restiveness in 
a man's nature; but that the wheels of his mind keep way with the 
wheels of his fortune. For so Livy (after he had described Cato 
Major in these words, In illo viro tantum robur corporis et animi 
fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur 
[Such was his strength of body and mind, that wherever he had 
been born he could have made himself a fortune]) falleth upon 
that, that he had versatile ingenium [a wit that could turn well]. 
Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see For- 
tune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of 
fortune is like the Milken Way in the sky; which is a meeting or 
knot of a number of small stars; not seen asunder, but giving light 
together. So are there a number of little and scarce discerned vir- 
tues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate. 
The Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. 
When they speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw in 
into his other conditions, that he hath Poco di matto [a little out of 
his senses]. And certainly there be not two more fortunate proper- 
ties, than to have a little of the fool, and not too much of the 
honest. Therefore extreme lovers of their country or masters were 
never fortunate, neither can they be. For when a man placeth his 
thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way. An hasty for- 
tune maketh an enterpriser and remover (the French hath it bet- 
ter, entreprenant, or remuant); but the exercised fortune maketh 
the able man. Fortune is to be honored and respected, and it be 
but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation. For those two 
Felicity breedeth; the first within a man's self, the latter in others 
towards him. All wise men, to decline the envy of their own vir- 
tues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they 
may the better assume them: and, besides, it is greatness in a man to 
be the care of the higher powers. So Cæsar said to the pilot in the 
· Stops. 



OF USURY 


101 


tempest, Cæsarem portas, et fortunam ejus [You carry Cæsar and 
his fortune]. So Sylla chose the name of Felix [the Fortunate], and 
not of Magnus [the Great]. And it hath been noted, that those who 
ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom and policy end in- 
fortunate. It is written that Timotheus the Athenian, after he had, 
in the account he gave to the state of his government, often inter- 
laced this speech, and in this Fortune had no part, never prospered 
in anything he undertook afterwards. Certainly there be, whose 
fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness 
more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's 
fortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas. And that 
this should be, no doubt it is much in a man's self. 


XLI 


OF USURY 


MANY have made witty invectives against usury.1 They say that 
it is a pity the devil should have God's part, which is the tithe. That 
the usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth 
every Sunday. That the usurer is the drone that Virgil speaketh of; 
Ignavum fucos pecus a præsepibus arcent. 
[They drive away the drones, a slothful race, from the hives.] That 
the usurer breaketh the first law that was made for mankind after 
the fall, which was, in sudore vultus tui comedes pan em tuum; 
not, in sudore vultus alieni [in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat 
bread-not in the sweat of another's face]. That usurers should 
have orange-tawny2 bonnets, because they do judaize. That it is 
against nature for money to beget money; and the like. I say this 
only, that usury is a concessum propter duritiem cordis [a thing al- 
lowed by reason of the hardness of men's hearts]; for since there 
must be borrowing and lending, and men are so hard of heart as 
they will not lend freely, usury must be permitted. Some others 
have made suspicious and cunning propositions of banks, discovery3 
of men's estates, and other inventions. But few have spoken of 
usury usefully. It is good to set before us the incommodities and 
1 Interest, not necessarily excessive. 2 The color the Jews used to be required to wear. 
3 Revealing. 



102 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BAC011 


commodities of usury, that the good may be either weighed out or 
culled out; and warily to provide, that while we make forth to that 
which is better, we meet not with that which is worse. 
The discommodities of usury are, First, that it makes fewer mer- 
chants. For were it not for this lazy trade of usury, money would 
not lie stiU, but would in great part be employed upon merchandiz- 
ing; which is the vena porta. of wealth in a state. The second, that 
it makes poor merchants. F or as a farmer cannot husband his 
ground so well if he sit at a great rent; so the merchant cannot 
drive his trade so well, if he sit at great usury. The third is incident 
to the other two; and that is the decay of customs of kings or states, 
which ebb or flow with merchandizing. The fourth, that it bring- 
eth the treasure of a realm or state into a few hands. For the usurer 
being at certainties, and others at uncertainties, at the end of the 
game most of the money will be in the box; and ever a state flourish- 
eth when wealth is more equally spread. The fifth, that it beats 
down the price of land; for the employment of money is chiefly 
either merchandizing or purchasing; and usury waylays both. The 
sixth, that it doth dull and damp all industries, improvements, and 
new inventions, wherein money would be stirring, if it were not for 
this slug. The last, that it is the canker and ruin of many men's 
estates; which in process of time breeds a public poverty. 
On the other side, the commodities of usury are, first, that how- 
soever usury in some respect hindereth merchandizing, yet in some 
other it advanceth it; for it is certain that the greatest part of trade 
is driven by young merchants, upon borrowing at interest; so as if 
the usurer either call in or keep back his money, there will ensue 
presently a great stand of trade. The second is, that were it not for 
this easy borrowing upon interest, men's necessities would draw 
upon them a most sudden undoing; in that they would be forced 
to sell their means (be it lands or goods) far under foot;5 and so, 
whereas usury doth but gnaw upon them, bad markets would swal- 
low them quite up. As for mortgaging or pawning, it will little 
mend the matter: for either men will not take pawns without use; 
or if they do, they will look precisely for the forfeiture. I remem- 
ber a cruel moneyed man in the country, that would say, The devil 
· Essay xix. D. 4. 5 Below the real value. 



OF USURY 103 
take this usury, it keep us from forfeitures of mortgages and bonds. 
The third and last is, that it is a vanity to conceive that there would 
be ordinary borrowing without profit; and it is impossible to con- 
ceive the number of inconveniences that will ensue, if borrowing 
be cramped. Therefore to speak of the abolishing of usury is idle. 
All states have ever had it, in one kind or rate, or other. So as 
that opinion must be sent to Utopia. 6 
To speak now of the reformation and reiglemene of usury; how 
the discommodities of it may be best avoided, and the commodities 
retained. It appears by the balance of commodities and discom- 
modities of usury, two things are to be reconciled. The one, that 
the tooth of usury be grinded, that it bite not too much; the other, 
that there be left open a means to invite moneyed men to lend to 
the merchants, for the continuing and quickening of trade. This 
cannot be done, except you introduce two several sorts of usury, a 
less and a greater. For if you reduce usury to one low rate, it will 
ease the common borrower, but the merchant will be to seek for 
money. And it is to be noted, that the trade of merchandize, being 
the most lucrative, may bear usury at a good rate; other contracts 
not so. 
To serve both intentions, the way would be briefly thus. That 
there be two rates of usury: the one free, and general for all; the 
other under license only, to certain persons and in certain places of 
merchandizing. First, therefore, let usury in general be reduced to 
five in the hundred; and let that rate be proclaimed to be free and 
current; and let the state shut itself out to take any penalty for the 
same. This will preserve borrowing from any general stop or dry- 
ness. This will ease infinite borrowers in the country. This will, in 
good part, raise the price of land, because land purchased at sixteen 
years' purchase will yield six in the hundred, and somewhat more; 
whereas this rate of interest yields but five. This by like reason will 
encourage and edge industrious and profitable improvements; be- 
cause many will rather venture in that kind than take five in 
the hundred, especially having been used to greater profit. Sec- 
ondly, let there be certain persons licensed to lend to known 
merchants upon usury at a higher rate; and let it be with the cau- 
6 Sir Thomas More's imaginary ideal commonwealth. 7 Rcgulation. 



104 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
tions following. Let the rate be, even with the merchant himself, 
somewhat more easy than that he used formerly to pay; for by that 
means all borrowers shall have some ease by this reformation, be 
he merchant, or whosoever. Let it be no bank or common stock, 
but every man be master of his own money. Not that I altogether 
mislike banks, but they will hardly be brooked, in regard of certain 
suspicions. Let the state be answered some small matter for the 
license, and the rest left to the lender; for if the abatement be but 
small, it will no whit discourage the lender. For he, for example, 
that took before ten or nine in the hundred, will sooner descend 
to eight in the hundred than give over his trade of usury, and go 
from certain gains to gains of hazard. Let these licensed lenders be 
in number indefinite, but restrained to certain principal cities and 
towns of merchandizing; for then they will be hardly able to color 
other men's moneys in the country: so as the license of nine will 
not suck away the current rate of five; for no man will lend his 
moneys far off, nor put them into unknown hands. 
If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize usury, which 
before was in some places but permissive; the answer is, that it is 
better to mitigate usury by declaration, than to suffer it to rage by 
connivance. 


XLII 


OF YOUTH AND AGE 


A MAN that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost 
no time. But that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the 
first cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is a youth in 
thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the invention of young men 
is more lively than that of old; and imaginations stream into their 
minds better, and as it were more divinely. Natures that have much 
heat and great and violent desires and perturbations are not ripe for 
action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was 
with Julius Cæsar and Septimius Sever us. Of the latter of whom it 
is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam [He passed 
a youth full of errors, yea of madnesses]. And yet he was the ablest 
emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures may do well in 



OF YOUTH AND AGE IOS 
youth. As it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, 
Gaston de F oix, and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity 
in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are 
fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; 
and fitter for new projects than for settled business. For the experi- 
ence of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth 
them; but in new things, abuseth 1 them. The errors of young men 
are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to 
this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in 
the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can 
hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without con- 
sideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles 
which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not to l innovate, 
which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at 
first; and that which doubleth all errors will not acknowledge or 
retract them; like an unready3 horse, that will neither stop nor turn. 
Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too littl
 
repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period," 
but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it 
is good to compound employments of both; for that will be good 
for the present, because the virtues of either age may correct the de- 
fects of both; and good for succession, that young men may be 
learners, while men in age are actors; and, lastly, good for extern 
accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favor and popu- 
larity youth. But for the moral part, perhaps youth will have the 
pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic. A certain rabbin, upon 
the text, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall 
dream dreams, inferreth that young men are admitted nearer to 
God than old, because vision is a clearer revelation than a dream. 
And certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it 
intoxicateth; and age doth profit rather in the powers of under- 
standing, than in the virtues of the will and affections. There be some 
have an over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth betimes. 
These are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is soon 
turned; such as was Hermogenes the rhetorician, whose books are 


1 Dcceivctb. 2 Are reckless in innovating. 3 Badly trained. 
( Compleúon. 



106 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
exceeding subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort is 
of those that have some natural dispositions which have better grace 
in youth than in age; such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech; which 
becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, 
Idem manebat, neque idem decebat [He continued the same, when 
the same was not becoming]. The third is of such as take too high 
a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years 
can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith in effect, 
Ultima prim is cedebant [His last actions were not equal to his first]. 


XLIII 


OF BEAUTY 


VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely virtue is best 
in a body that is comely, though not of delicate features; and that 
hath rather dignity of presence than beauty of aspect. Neither is it 
almost seen, that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great vir- 
tue; as if nature were rather busy not to err, than in labor to pro- 
duce excellency. And therefore they prove accomplished, but not 
of great spirit; and study rather behavior than virtue. But this 
holds not always: for Augustus Cæsar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip 
Ie Bel of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of 
Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits; 
and yet the most beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of 
favor l is more than that of color; and that of decent 2 and gracious 
motion more than that of favor. That is the best part of beauty, 
which a picture cannot express; no nor the first sight of the life. 
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the 
proportion. A man cannot tell whether Apelles or Albert Durer 
were the more trifler; whereof the one would make a personage by 
geometrical proportions; the other, by taking the best parts out of 
divers faces, to make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would 
please nobody but the painter that made them. Not but I think a 
painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by 
a kind of felicity (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in 
1 Feature. 12 Becoming. 



OF DEFORMITY 107 
music), and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that if you examine 
them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether 
do well. If it be true that the principal part of beauty is in decent 
motion, certainly it is no marvel though persons in years seem many 
times more amiable; pulchrorum autumnus pulcher [beautiful per- 
sons have a beautiful autumn]; for no youth can be comely but by 
pardon,3 and considering the youth as to make up the comeliness. 
Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot 
last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age 
a little out of countenance; but yet certainly again, if it light well, 
it maketh virtue shine, and vices blush. 


XLIV 


OF DEFORMITY 


DEFORMED persons are commonly even with nature; for as nature 
hath done ill by them, so do they by nature; being for the most part 
(as the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have 
their revenge of nature. Certainly there is a consent 1 between the 
body and the mind; and where nature erreth in the one, she ven- 
tureth in the other. Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in altero. But 
because there is in man an election touching the frame of his mind, 
and a necessity in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclina- 
tion are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline and virtue. 
Therefore it is good to consider of deformity, not as a sign, which 
is more deceivable; but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect. 
Whosoever hath anything fixed in his person that doth induce con- 
tempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver 
himself from scorn. Therefore all deformed persons are extreme 
bold. First, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn; but 
in process of time by a general habit. Also it stirreth in them in- 
dustry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weak- 
ness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in 
their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that 
they think they may at pleasure despise: and it layeth their competitors 
3 Making special allowance. 1 Agreement. 



108 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
and emulators asleep; as never believing they should be in possi- 
bility of advancement, till they see them in possession. So that upon 
the matter,Z in a great wit, deformity is an advantage to rising. 
Kings in ancient times (and at this present in some countries) were 
wont to put great trust in eunuchs; because they that are envious 
towards all are more obnoxious 3 and officious towards one. But yet 
their trust towards them hath rather been as to good spials' and 
good whisperers, than good magistrates and officers. And much like 
is the reason of deformed persons. Still the ground is, they will, if 
they be of spirit, seek to free themselves from scorn; which must 
be either by virtue or malice; and therefore let it not be marvelled if 
sometimes they prove excellent persons; as was Agesilaus, Zanger the 
son of Solyman, Æsop, Gasca, President of Peru; and Socrates may 
go likewise amongst them; with others. 


XLV 


OF BUILDING 


HOUSES are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use 
be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had. 
Leave the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to the en- 
chanted palaces of the poets; who build them with small cost. He 
that builds a fair house upon an ill seat, committeth himself to 
prison. Neither do I reckon it an ill seat only where the air is un- 
wholesome; but likewise where the air is unequal; as you shall see 
many fine seats set upon a knapl of ground, environed with higher 
hills round about it; whereby the heat of the sun is pent in, and the 
wind gathereth as in troughs; so as you shall have, and that sud- 
denly, as great diversity of heat and cold as if you dwelt in several 
places. Neither is it ill air only that maketh an ill seat, but ill ways, 
ill markets; and, if you will consult with Momus,2 ill neighbors. I 
speak not of many more; want of water; want of wood, shade, and 
shelter; want of fruitfulness, and mixture of grounds of several na- 
tures; want of prospect; want of level grounds; want of places at 
some near distance for sports of hunting, hawking, and races; too 
2 On the whole. 3 Subservient. 4 Spies. 1 Knoll. 2 The God of fault-finding. 



OF BUILDING 109 
near the sea, too remote; having the commodity3 of navigable rivers, 
or the discommodity of their overflowing; too far off from great 
cities, which may hinder business, or too near them, which lurcheth 4 
all provisions, and maketh everything dear; where a man hath a 
great living laid together, and where he is scanted: all which, as it 
is impossible perhaps to find together, so it is good to know 
them, and think of them, that a man may take as many as he 
can; and if he have several dwellings, that he sort them so, that 
what he wanteth in the one he may find in the other. Lucullus an- 
swered Pompey well; who, when he saw his stately galleries, and 
rooms so large and lightsome, in one of his houses, said, Surely 
an excellent place for summer, but hotlJ do you in winter? Lucullus 
answered, Why, do you not think me as wise as some fowl are, that 
ever change their abode towards the winter? 
To pass from the seat to the house itself; we will do as Cicero 
cloth in the orator's art; who writes books De Oratore, and a book 
he entitles Orator; whereof the former delivers the precepts of the 
art, and the latter the perfection. We will therefore describe a 
princely palace, making a brief model thereof. For it is strange to 
see, now in Europe, such huge buildings as the Vatican and Escurial 
and some others be, and yet scarce a very fair room in them. 
First, therefore, I say you cannot have a perfect palace except 
you have two several sides; a side for the banquet, as it is spoken 
of in the book of Hester, and a side for the household; the one for 
feasts and triumphs, and the other for dwelling. I understand both 
these sides to be not only returns,5 but parts of the front; and to be 
uniform without, though severally partitioned within; and to be on 
both sides of a great and stately tower in the midst of the front, 
that, as it were, joineth them together on either hand. I would 
have on the side of the banquet, in front, one only goodly room 
above stairs, of some forty foot high; and under it a room for a 
dressing or preparing place at times of triumphs. On the other 
side, which is the household side, I wish it divided at the first into a 
hall and a chapel (with a partition between); both of good state 
and bigness; and those not to go all the length, but to have at the 


3 Lat., no commodity or convenience, which gives better sense. 
4 Intercepts. 5 Wings running back from the front. 



lID 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


further end a winter and a summer parlor, both fair. And under 
these rooms, a fair and large cellar sunk under ground; and likewise 
some privy kitchens, with butteries and pantries, and the like. As 
for the tower, I would have it two stories, of eighteen foot high 
apiece, above the two wings; and a goodly leads upon the top, railed 
with statuas interposed; and the same tower to be divided into 
rooms, as shall be thought fit. The stairs likewise to the upper 
rooms, let them be upon a fair open newel,6 and finely railed in 
with images of wood, cast into a brass color; and a very fair landing- 
place at the top. But this to be, if you do not point any of the lower 
rooms for a dining place of servants. For otherwise you shall have 
the servants' dinner after your own: for the steam of it will come 
up as in a tunnel. And so much for the front. Only I understand 
the height of the first stairs to be sixteen foot, which is the height 
of the lower room. 
Beyond this front is there to be a fair court, but three sides of it, 
of a far lower building than the front. And in all the four corners of 
that court fair staircases, cast into turrets, on the outside, and not 
within the row of buildings themselves. But those towers are not to 
be of the height of the front, but rather proportionable to the lower 
building. Let the court not be paved, for that striketh up a great 
heat in summer, and much cold in winter. But only some side alleys, 
with a cross, and the quarters to graze, being kept shorn, but not too 
near shorn. The row of return on the banquet side, let it be all 
stately galleries: in which galleries let there be three, or five, fine 
cupolas in the length of it, placed at equal distance; and fine col- 
ored windows of several works. On the household side, chambers 
of presence 7 and ordinary entertainments, with some bed-chambers; 
and let all three sides be a double house, without thorough lights 
on the sides, that you may have rooms from the sun, both for fore- 
noon and afternoon. CastS it also, that you may have rooms both 
for summer and winter; shady for summer, and warm for winter. 
You shall have sometimes fair houses so full of glass that one cannot 
tell where to become to be out of the sun or cold. For inbowed win- 
dows, I hold them of good use (in cities, indeed, upright do better, 


6 The center pillar, or, when "open," the well, of a winding stair. 
7 Receptionørooms. 8 Plan. 



OF BUILDING I I I 
in respect of the uniformity towards the street); for they be pretty 
retiring places for conference; and besides, they keep both the wind 
and sun off; for that which would strike almost through the room 
doth scarce pass the window. But let them be but few, four in the 
court, on the sides only. 
Beyond this court, let there be an inward court, of the same 
square and height; which is to be environed with the garden on all 
sides; and in the inside, cloistered on all sides, upon decent and 
beautiful arches, as high as the first story. On the under story, 
towards the garden, let it be turned to a grotto, or place of shade, 
or estivation. 9 And only have opening and windows towards the 
garden; and be level upon the floor, no whit sunken under ground, 
to avoid all dampishness. And let there be a fountain, or some fair 
work of statuas in the midst of this court; and to be paved as the 
other court was. These buildings to be for privy lodgings on both 
sides; and the end for privy galleries. Whereof you must foresee 
that one of them be for an infirmary, if the prince or any special 
person should be sick, with chambers, bed-chamber, ante-camera, 
and recamera 10 joining to it. This upon the second story. Upon the 
ground story, a fair gallery, open, upon pillars; and upon the third 
story likewise, an open gallery, upon pillars, to take the prospect and 
freshness of the garden. At both corners of the further side, by way 
of return, let there be two delicate or rich cabinets, daintily paved, 
richly hanged, glazed with crystalline glass, and a rich cupola in 
the midst; and all other elegancy that may be thought upon. In 
the upper gallery too, I wish that there may be, if the place will 
yield it, some fountains running in divers places from the wall, with 
some fine avoidances. l1 And thus much for the model of the palace; 
save that you must have, before you come to the front, three courts. 
A green court plain, with a wall about it; a second court of the same, 
but more garnished, with little turrets, or rather embellishments, 
upon the wall; and a third court, to make a square with the front, 
but not to be built, nor yet enclosed with a naked wall, but enclosed 
with terraces, leaded aloft, and fairly garnished, on the three sides; 
and cloistered on the inside, with pillars, and not with arches be- 


I) For summer use. 10 Retiring-room. 
11 Secret outlets. 



112 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


low. As for offices, let them stand at distance, with some low gal- 
leries, to pass from them to the palace itself. 


XLVI 


OF GARDENS 


GOD ALMIGHTY first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest 
of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of 
man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handi- 
works; and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility 
and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden 
finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in 
the royal ordering of gardens, there ought to be gardens for all the 
months in the year; in which severally things of beauty may be 
then in season. For December, and January, and the latter part of 
November, you must take such things as are green all winter: holly; 
ivy; bays; juniper; cypress-trees; yew; pine-apple-trees;1 fir-trees; 
rosemary; lavender; periwinkle, the white, the purple, and the blue; 
germander; flags; orange-trees; lemon-trees; and myrtles, if they be 
stoved;2 and sweet marjoram, warm set. There followeth, for the lat- 
ter part of January and February, the mezereon-tree, which then 
blossoms; crocus vernus,3 both the yellow and the grey; primroses; 
anemones; the early tulippa; hyacinthus orientalis; chamairis; fritel- 
laria. 4 For March, there come violets, specially the single blue, which 
are the earliest; the yellow daffodil; the daisy; the almond-tree in 
blossom; the peach-tree in blossom; the cornelian-tree in blossom; 
sweet-briar. In April follow the double white violet; the wall-flower; 
the stock-gilliflower; the cowslip; flower-delices, and lilies of all 
natures; rosemary-flowers; the tulippa; the double peony; the pale 
daffodil; the French honeysuckle; the cherry-tree in blossom; the 
damson and plum-trees in blossom; the white thorn in leaf; the 
lilac-tree. In May and June come pinks of all sorts, specially the 
blush-pink; roses of all kinds, except the musk, which comes later; 
honeysuckles; strawberries; bugloss; columbine; the French mari- 
gold, flos Africanus; cherry-tree in fruit; ribes;5 figs in fruit; rasps; 


1 Pine trees. The cones were called pineapples. 2 Kept in a hothouse. 
3 Spring crocus. "A kind of lily. 5 Currants or gooseberries. 



OF GARDENS 113 
vine-flowers; lavender in flowers; the sweet satyrian, with the white 
flower; herba muscaria;6 lilium convallium;7 the apple
tree in blos- 
som. In July come gilliflowers of all varieties; musk-roses; the lime- 
tree in blossom; early pears and plums in fruit; jennetings,8 codlins. 8 
In August come plums of all sorts in fruit; pears; apricocks; ber- 
berries; filberds; musk-melons; monks-hoods, of all colors. In Sep- 
tember come grapes; apples; poppies of all colors; peaches; melo- 
cotones;9 nectarines; cornelians; wardens;lo quinces. In October 
and the beginning of November come services; medlars; bullaces;l1 
roses cut or removed to come late; holly-hocks; and such like. These 
particulars are for the climate of London; but my meaning is per- 
ceived, that you may have ver perpetuum [perpetual spring], as the 
place affords. 
And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where 
it comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand, 
therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be 
the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask 
and red, are fast flowers l2 of their smells; so that you may walk by 
a whole row of them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea 
though it be in a morning's dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as 
they grow. Rosemary little; nor sweet marjoram. That which above 
all others yields the sweetest smell in the air is the violet, specially 
the white double violet, which comes twice a year; about the middle 
of April, and about Bartholomew-tide. 13 Next to that is the musk- 
rose. Then the strawberry-leaves dying, which [yield] a most excel- 
lent cordial smell. Then the flower of the vines; it is a little dust, 
like the dust of a bent,14 which grows upon the cluster in the first 
coming forth. Then sweet-briar. Then wall-flowers, which are very 
delightful to be set under a parlor or lower chamber window. Then 
pinks and gilliflowers/ 5 especially the matted pink and clove gilli- 
flower. Then the flowers of the lime-tree. Then the honeysuckles, 
so they be somewhat afar off. Of bean-flowers I speak not, because 
they are field flowers. But those which perfume the air most delight- 
fully, not passed by as the rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, 


6 Grape-hyacinth. 7 Lily of the valley. 8 Kinds of apples. 9 A kind of peach. 
10 Large baking pears. 11 A sort of plum. 12 Not yielding odor freely. 
13 August 24. 14 A kind of grass. 15 Carnations. 



114 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
are three; that is, burnet, wild-thyme, and watermints. Therefore 
you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you 
walk or tread. 
For gardens (speaking of those which are indeed prince-like, as 
we have done of buildings), the contents ought not well to be under 
thirty acres of ground; and to be divided into three parts; a green in 
the entrance; a heath or desert in the going forth; and the main 
garden in the midst; besides alleys on both sides. And I like well 
that four acres of ground be assigned to the green; six to the heath; 
four and four to either side; and twelve to the main garden. The 
green hath two pleasures: the one, because nothing is more pleasant 
to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other, because it 
will give you a fair alley in the midst, by which you may go in front 
upon a stately hedge, which is to enclose the garden. But because 
the alley will be long, and, in great heat of the year or day, you ought 
not to buy the shade in the garden by going in the sun through the 
green, therefore you are, of either side the green, to plant a covert 
alley upon carpenter's work, about twelve foot in height, by which 
you may go in shade into the garden. As for the making of knots 
or figures, with divers colored earths, that they may lie under the 
windows of the house on that side which the garden stands, they 
be but toys; you may see as good sights many times in tarts. The 
garden is best to be square, em;ompassed on all the four sides with 
a stately arched hedge. The arches to be upon pillars of carpenter's 
work, of some ten foot high, and six foot broad; and the spaces 
between of the same dimension with the breadth of the arch. Over 
the arches let there be an entire hedge of some four foot high, framed 
also upon carpenter's work; and upon the upper hedge, over every 
arch, a little turret, with a belly, enough to receive a cage of birds: 
and over every space between the arches some other little figure, 
with broad plates of round colored glass gilt, for the sun to play 
upon. But this hedge I intend to be raised upon a bank, not steep, 
but gently slope, of some six foot, set all with flowers. Also I under- 
stand, that this square of the garden should not be the whole breadth 
of the ground, but to leave on either side ground enough for diver- 
sity of side alleys; unto which the two covert alleys of the green may 
deliver you. But there must be no alleys with hedges at either end 



OF GARDENS 115 
of this great enclosure; not at the hither end, for letting 16 your pros- 
pect upon this fair hedge from the green; nor .at the further end, for 
letting your prospect from the hedge, through the arches upon the 
heath. 
For the ordering of the ground within the great hedge, I leave it 
to variety of device; advising nevertheless that whatsoever form you 
cast it into, first, it be not too busy, or full of work. Wherein I, for 
my part, do not like images cut out in juniper or other garden stuff; 
they be for children. Little low hedges, round, like welts, with some 
pretty pyramids, I like well; and in some places, fair columns upon 
frames of carpenter's work. I would also have the alleys spacious and 
fair. You may have closer alleys upon the side grounds, but none in 
the main garden. I wish also, in the very middle, a fair mount, 
with three ascents, and alleys, enough for four to walk abreast; 
which I would have to be perfect circles, without any bulwarks or 
embossments; and the whole mount to be thirty foot high; and some 
fine banqueting-house, with some chimneys neatly cast, and without 
too much glass. 
For fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but pools 
mar all, and make the garden unwholesome, and full of flies and 
frogs. Fountains I intend to be of two natures: the one that sprin- 
kleth or spouteth water; the other a fair receipt of water, of some 
thirty or forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud. For 
the first, the ornaments of images gilt, or of marble, which are in use, 
do well: but the main matter is so to convey the water, as it never 
stay, either in the bowls or in the cistern; that the water be never 
by rest discolored, green or red or the like; or gather any mossiness 
or putrefaction. Besides that, it is to be cleansed every day by the 
hand. Also some steps up to it, and some fine pavement about it, 
doth well. As for the other kind of fountain, which we may call a 
bathing pool, it may admit much curiosity and beauty; wherewith 
we will not trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely paved, 
and with images; the sides likewise; and withal embellished with 
colored glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine 
rails of low statuas. But the main point is the same which we men- 
tioned in the former kind of fountain; which is, that the water be in 
16 Hindering. 



I 16 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
perpetual motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and deliv- 
ered into it by fair spouts, and then discharged away under ground 
by some equality of bores, that it stay little. And for fine devices, of 
arching water without spilling, and making it rise in several forms 
(of feathers, drinking glasses, canopies, and the like), they be pretty 
things to look on, but nothing to health and sweetness. 
For the heath, which was the third part of our plot, I wish it to be 
framed, as much as may be, to a natural wildness. Trees I would 
have none in it, but some thickets made only of sweet-briar and 
honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and the ground set with 
violets, strawberries, and primroses. For these are sweet, and pros- 
per in the shade. And these to be in the heath, here and there, not 
in any order. I like also little heaps, in the nature of mole-hills 
(such as are in wild heaths), to be set, some with wild thyme; some 
with pinks; some with germander, that gives a good flower to the 
eye; some with periwinkle; some with violets; some with straw- 
berries; some with cowslips; some with daisies; some with red roses; 
some with lilium convallium; some with sweet-williams red; some 
with bear's-foot: and the like low flowers, being withal sweet and 
sightly. Part of which heaps are to be with standards of little bushes 
pricked 17 upon their top, and part without. The standards to be 
roses; juniper; holly; berberries (but here and there, because of the 
smell of their blossom); red currants; gooseberries; rosemary; bays; 
sweet-briar; and such like. But these standards to be kept with cut- 
ting, that they grow not out of course. 
F or the side grounds, you are to fill them with variety of alleys, 
private, to give a full shade, some of them, wheresoever the sun be. 
You are to frame some of them likewise for shelter, that when the 
wind blows sharp you may walk as in a gallery. And those alleys 
must be likewise hedged at both ends, to keep out the wind; and 
these closer alleys must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, be- 
cause of going wet. In many of these alleys, likewise, you are to set 
fruit-trees of all sorts; as well upon the walls as in ranges. And this 
would be generally observed, that the borders wherein you plant 
your fruit-trees be fair and large, and low, and not steep; and set 
with fine flowers, but thin and sparingly, lest they deceive 1s the trees. 
17 Planted. IS Rob. 



OF NEGOTIATING 117 
At the end of both the side grounds, I would have a mount of some 
pretty height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high, to look 
abroad into the fields. 
For the main garden, I do not deny but there should be some 
fair alleys ranged on both sides, with fruit-trees; and some pretty 
tufts of fruit-trees, and arbors with seats, set in some decent order; 
but these to be by no means set too thick; but to leave the main 
garden so as it be not close, but the air open and free. For as for 
shade, I would have you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds, 
there to walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the year or day; but 
to make account that the main garden is for the more temperate 
parts of the year; and in the heat of summer, for the morning and 
the evening, or overcast days. 
For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of that largeness as 
they may be turfed, and have living plants and bushes set in them; 
that the birds may have more scope, and natural nestling, and that 
no foulness appear in the floor of the aviary. So I have made a plat- 
form 19 of a princely garden, partly by precept, partly by drawing, not 
a model, but some general lines of it; and in this I have spared for 
no cost. But it is nothing for great princes, that for the most part 
taking advice with workmen, with no less cost set their things to- 
gether; and sometimes add statuas and such things for state and 
magnificence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden. 


XLVII 


OF NEGOTIATING 


IT is generally better to deal by speech than by letter; and by the 
mediation of a third than by a man's self. Letters are good, when a 
man would draw an answer by letter back again; or when it may 
serve for a man's justification afterwards to produce his own letter; 
or where it may be danger to be interrupted, or heard by pieces. 
To deal in person is good, when a man's face breedeth regard, as 
commonly with inferiors; or in tender cases, where a man's eye upon 
the countenance of him with whom he speaketh may give him a 
19 Plan. 



118 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


direction how far to go; and generally, where a man will reserve to 
himself liberty either to disavow or to expound. In choice of in- 
struments, it is better to choose men of a plainer sort, that are like 
to do that that is committed to them, and to report back again faith- 
fully the success, than those that are cunning to contrive out of 
other men's business somewhat to grace themselves, and will help 
the matter in report for satisfaction' sake. Use also such persons as 
affect l the business wherein they are employed; for that quickeneth 
much; and such as are fit for the matter; as bold men for expostula- 
tion, fair-spoken men for persuasion, crafty men for inquiry and 
observation, froward 2 and absurd 3 men for business that doth not 
well bear out 4 itself. Use also such as have been lucky, and prevailed 
before in things wherein you have employed them; for that breeds 
confidence, and they will strive to maintain their prescription. It is 
better to sound a person with whom one deals afar off, than to fall 
upon the point at first; except you mean to surprise him by some 
short question. It is better dealing with men in appetite, than with 
those that are where they would be. If a man deal with another 
upon conditions, the start or first performance is all; which a man 
cannot reasonably demand, except either the nature of the thing be 
such, which must go before; or else a man can persuade the other 
party that he shall still need him in some other thing; or else that 
he be counted the honester man. All practiceS is to discover,6 or to 
work. 7 Men discover themselves in trust, in passion, at unawares, 
and of necessity, when they would have somewhat done and can- 
not find an apt pretext. If you would work any man, you must 
either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, 
and so persuade him; or his weakness and disadvantages, and so 
awe him; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him. In 
dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends, 
to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and 
that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man 
may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business, 
and so ripen it by degrees. 
1 Like. 2 Stubborn. 3 Stupid. 4 Justify. 5 Scheming. 6 Reveal. 
7 Manage, make use of. 



OF FOLLOWERS AND FRIENDS 


II9 


XLVIII 


OF FOLLOWERS AND FRIENDS 
COSTLY followers are not to be liked; lest while a man maketh his 
train longer, he make his wings shorter. I reckon to be costly, not 
them alone which charge the purse, but which are wearisome and 
importune in suits. Ordinary followers ought to challenge no higher 
conditions than countenance, recommendation, and protection from 
wrongs. Factious followers are worse to be liked, which follow not 
upon affection to him with whom they range themselves, but upon 
discontentment conceived against some other; whereupon commonly 
ensueth that ill intelligence l that we many times see between great 
personages. Likewise glorious 2 followers, who make themselves as 
trumpets of the commendation of those they follow, are full of incon- 
venience; for they taint business through want of secrecy; and they 
export honor from a man, and make him a return in envy. There is 
a kind of followers likewise which are dangerous, being indeed 
espials;3 which inquire the secrets of the house, and bear tales of 
them to others. Yet such men, many times, are in great favor; for 
they are officious, and commonly exchange tales. The following by 
certain estates of men, answerable to that which a great person him- 
self professeth (as of soldiers to him that hath been employed in 
the wars, and the like), hath ever been a thing civil," and well taken 
even in monarchies; so it be without too much pomp or popularity. 
But the most honorable kind of following is to be followed as one 
that apprehendeth to advance virtue and desert in all sorts of per- 
sons. And yet, where there is no eminent odds in sufficiency, it is 
better to take with the more passable,s than with the more able. And 
besides, to speak truth, in base times active men are of more use 
than virtuous. It is true that in government it is good to use men 
of one rank equally: for to countenance some extraordinarily is to 
make them insolent, and the rest discontent; because they may claim 
a due. But contrariwise, in favor, to use men with much difference 
and election is good; for it maketh the persons preferred more thank- 
ful, and the rest more officious: because all is of favor. It is good 
discretion not to make too much of any man at the first; because 
1 Understanding. 2 Boastful. 3 Spies. 4 Proper. S Mediocre. 



120 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
one cannot hold out that proportion. To be governed (as we call it) 
by one is not safe; for it shows softness, and gives a freedom to scan- 
dal and disreputation; for those that would not censure or speak ill 
of a man immediately will talk more boldly of those that are so great 
with them, and thereby wound their honor . Yet to be distracted with 
many is worse; for it makes men to be of the last impression, and 
full of change. To take advice of some few friends is ever honorable; 
for lookers-on many times see more than gamesters; and the vale 
best discovereth the hill. There is little friendship in the world, and 
least of all between equals, which was wont to be magnified. That 
that is, is between superior and inferior, whose fortunes may com- 
prehend the one the other. 


XLIX 


OF SUITORS 


MANY ill matters and projects are undertaken; and private .suits 
do putrefy the public good. Many good matters are undertaken 
with bad minds; I mean not only corrupt minds, but crafty minds, 
that intend not performance. Some embrace suits, which never 
mean to deal effectually in them; but if they see there may be life 
in the matter by some other mean, they will be content to win a 
thank, or take a second reward, or at least to make use in the mean- 
time of the suitor's hopes. Some take hold of suits only for an occa- 
sion to cross some other; or to make 1 an information whereof they 
could not otherwise have apt pretext; without care what become of 
the suit when that turn is served; or, generally, to make other men's 
business a kind of entertainment to bring in their own. Nay, some 
undertake suits, with a full purpose to let them fall; to the end to 
gratify the adverse party or competitor. Surely there is in some sort 
a right in every suit; either a right in equity, if it be a suit of con- 
troversy;2 or a right of desert, if it be a suit of petition. 3 If affection 
lead a man to favor the wrong side in justice, let him rather use 
his countenance to compound 4 the matter than to carry it. 5 If affec- 


1 Get. 


2 Law-suit. 


3 For some favor or office. 
5 Get an unjust decision. 


4 Compromise. 



OF SUITORS 12 I 
tion lead a man to favor the less worthy in desert, let him do it 
without depraving or disabling 6 the better deserver. In suits which 
a man doth not well understand, it is good to refer them to some 
friend of trust and judgment, that may report whether he may deal 
in them with honor: but let him choose well his referendaries, for 
else he may be led by the nose. Suitors are so distasted with delays 
and abuses,7 that plain dealing in denying to deal in suits at first, 
and reporting the success 8 barely, and in challenging no more thanks 
than one hath deserved, is grown not only honorable but also gra- 
cious. In suits of favor, the first coming ought to take little place: 
so far forth consideration may be had of his trust, that if intelligence 
of the matter could not otherwise have been had but by him, advan- 
tage be not taken of the note, but the party left to his other means; 
and in some sort recompensed for his discovery. To be ignorant of 
the value of a suit is simplicity; as well as to be ignorant of the right 
thereof is want of conscience. Secrecy in suits is a great mean of 
obtaining; for voicing them to be in forwardness may discourage 
some kind of suitors, but doth quicken and awake others. But 
timing of the suit is the principal. Timing, I say, not only in respect 
of the person that should grant it, but in respect of those which are 
like to cross it. Let a man, in the choice of his mean, rather choose 
the fittest mean than the greatest mean; and rather them that deal 
in certain things, than those that are general. The reparation of a 
denial is sometimes equal to the first grant; if a man show himself 
neither dejected nor discontented. lniquum petas ut æquum feras 
[Ask more than is reasonable, that you may get no less] is a good 
rule, where a man hath strength of favor: but otherwise a man were 
better rise in his suit; for he that would have ventured at first to have 
lost the suitor will not in the conclusion lose both the suitor and 
his own former favor. Nothing is thought so easy a request to a 
great person, as his letter; and yet, if it be not in a good cause, it is 
so much out of his reputation. There are no worse instruments 
than these general contrivers of suits; for they are but a kind of 
poison and infection to public proceedings. 


6 Decrying or disparaging. 
8 Outcome. 


7 Deceits. 



122 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


L 


OF STUDIES 


STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their 
chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, 
is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition 
of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of par- 
ticulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and 
marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To 
spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for 
ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, 
is the humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by 
experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need 
proyning,t by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions 
too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty 
men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use 
them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without 
them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict 
and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk 
and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be 
tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and 
digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to 
be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with 
diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, 
and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in 
the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else dis- 
tilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy2 things. Read- 
ing maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an 
exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a 
great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: 
and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to 
know that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the 
mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic 
and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores (Studies pass 
into and influence manners]. Nay, there is no stond or impediment 
1 Pruninsz. cultivating. 2 Insipid. 



OF FACTION 12 3 
in the wit but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases 
of the body may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for 
the stone and reins;3 shooting for the lungs and breast; gentle walk- 
ing for the stomach; riding for the head; and the like. So if a man's 
wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstra- 
tions, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. 
If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study 
the Schoolmen; for they are eymini seetores [splitters of hairs]. If 
he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing to prove 
and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers' cases. So every 
defect of the mind may have a special receipt. 


LI 


OF FACTION 


MANY have an opinion not wise, that for a prince to govern his 
estate, or for a great person to govern his proceedings, according to 
the respect of factions, is a principal part of policy; whereas contrari- 
wise, the chiefest wisdom is either in ordering those things which 
are general, and wherein men of several factions do nevertheless 
agree; or in dealing with correspondence to particular persons, one 
by one. But I say not that the considerations of factions is to be neg- 
lected. Mean men, in their rising, must adhere; but great men, that 
have strength in themselves, were better to maintain themselves in- 
different and neutral. Yet even in beginners, to adhere so moder- 
ately, as he be a man of the one faction which is most passable with 
the other, commonly giveth best way. The lower and weaker fac- 
tion is the firmer in conjunction; and it is often seen that a few that 
are stiff do tire out a greater number that are more moderate. When 
one of the factions is extinguished, the remaining subdivideth; as 
the faction between Lucullus and the rest of the nobles of the senate 
(which they called Optimates [Aristocrats]) held out awhile against 
the faction of Pompey and Cæsar; but when the senate's authority 
was pulled down, Cæsar and Pompey soon after brake. The faction 
or party of Antonius and Octavianus Cæsar against Brutus and 
3 Kidneys. 



124 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
Cassius held out likewise for a time; but when Brutus and Cassius 
were overthrown, then soon after Antonius and Octavianus brake 
and subdivided. These examples are of wars, but the same holdeth 
in private factions. And therefore those that are seconds in factions 
do many times, when the faction subdivideth, prove principals; but 
many times also they prove ciphers and cashiered; for many a man's 
strength is in opposition; and when that faileth he groweth out of 
use. It is commonly seen that men once placed take in with the con- 
trary faction to that by which they enter: thinking belike that they 
have the first sure, and now are ready for a new purchase. The 
traitor in faction lightly goeth away with it;1 for when matters have 
stuck long in balancing, the winning of some one man casteth them, 
and he getteth all the thanks. The even carriage between two fac- 
tions proceedeth not always of moderation, but of a trueness to a 
man's self, with end to make use of both. Certainly in Italy they 
hold it a little suspect in popes, when they have often in their mouth 
Padre commune [common father]: and take it to Ire a sign of one 
that meaneth to refer all to the greatness of his own house. Kings 
had need beware how they side themselves, and make themselves as 
of a faction or party; for leagues within the state are ever pernicious 
to monarchies: for they raise an obligation paramount to obligation 
of sovereignty, and make the king tanquam unus ex nobis [like one 
of ourselves]; as was to be seen in the League of France. When 
factions are carried too high and too violently, it is a sign of weak- 
ness in princes; and much to the prejudice both of their authority 
and business. The motions of factions under kings ought to be like 
the motions (as the astronomers speak) of the inferior orbs, which 
may have their proper motions, but yet still are quietly carried by 
the higher motion of primum mobile. 2 


LII 


OF CEREMONIES AND RESPECTS 


HE THAT is only real had need have exceeding great parts of vir- 
tue; as the stone had need to be rich that is set without foiV But if 


1 Gets an advantage. 2 See Essay xv. D. 3. 
1 Gold or silver leaf behind a precious stone to add luster. 



OF CEREMONIES AND RESPECTS 125 
a man mark it well, it is in praise and commendation of men as it 
is in gettings and gains: for the proverb is true, That light gains 
make heavy purses; for light gains come thick, whereas great come 
but now and then. So it is true that small matters win great com- 
mendation, because they are continually in use and in note: whereas 
the occasion of any great virtue cometh but on festivals. Therefore 
it doth much add to a man's reputation, and is (as Queen Isabella 
said) like perpetual/etters commendatory, to have good forms. To 
attain them it almost sufficeth not to despise them; for so shall a 
man observe them in others; and let him trust himself with the rest. 
For if he labor too much to express them, he shall lose their grace; 
which is to be natural and unaffected. Some men's behavior is like 
a verse, wherein every syllable is measured; how can a man compre- 
hend great matters, that breaketh his mind too much to small ob- 
servations? Not to use ceremonies at all is to teach others not to 
use them again; and so diminisheth respect to himself; especially they 
be not to be omitted to strangers and formal natures; but the dwell- 
ing upon them, and exalting them above the moon, is not only 
tedious but doth diminish the faith and credit of him that speaks. 
And certainly there is a kind of conveying of effectual and imprint- 
ini passages amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if a 
man can hit upon it. Amongst a man's peers a man shall be sure of 
familiarity; and therefore it is good a little to keep state. Amongst 
a man's inferiors one shall be sure of reverence; and therefore it is 
good a little to be familiar. He that is too much in anything, so that 
he giveth another occasion of satiety, maketh himself cheap. To 
apply one's self to others is good; so it be with demonstration that a 
man doth it upon regard, and not upon facility. It is a good precept 
generally in seconding another, yet to add somewhat of one's own: 
as if you will grant his opinion, let it be with some distinctíon; if 
you will follow his motion, let it be with condition; if you allow his 
counsel, let it be with alleging further reason. Men had need beware 
how they be too perfect in compliments; for be they never so suffi- 
cient otherwise, their enviers will be sure to give them that attribute, 
to the disadvantage of their greater virtues. It is loss also in business 
to be too full of respects, or to be curious in observing times and 
2 Impressive. 



126 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


opportunities. Solomon saith, He that consideretlz the wind shall not 
sow.. and he that looketh to the clouds shall not reap. A wise man 
wiII make more opportunities than he finds. Men's behavior should 
be like their apparel, not too strait or point device,3 but free for 
exercise or motion. 


LIII 


OF PRAISE 


PRAISE is the reflection of virtue; but it is as the glass or body 
which giveth the reflection. If it be from the common people, it is 
commonly false and naught; and rather followeth vain persons 
than virtuous. For the common people understand not many excel- 
lent virtues. The lowest virtues draw praise from them; the middle 
virtues work in them astonishment or admiration; but of the high- 
est virtues they have no sense of perceiving at all. But shows, and 
species virtutibus similes [qualities resembling virtues], serve best 
with them. Certainly fame is like a river, that beareth up things 
light and swoln, and drowns things weighty and solid. But if per- 
sons of quality and judgment concur/ then it is (as the Scripture 
saith) nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis [a good name like 
unto a sweet ointment]. It filleth all round about, and will not 
easily away. For the odors of ointments are more durable than those 
of flowers. There be so many false points of praise, that a man may 
justly hold it a suspect. Some praises proceed merely of flattery; and 
if he be an ordinary flatterer, he will have certain common attributes, 
which may serve every man; if he be a cunning flatterer, he will 
follow the arch-flatterer, which is a man's self; and wherein a man 
thinketh best of himself, therein the flatterer will uphold him most: 
but if he be an impudent flatterer, look wherein a man is conscious 
to himself that he is most defective, and is most out of countenance 
in himself, that will the flatterer entitle him to perforce, spreta 
conscientia [in disdain of conscience]. Some praises come of good 
wishes and respects, which is a form due in civility to kings and 
great persons, laudando præcipere [to teach in praising], when by 
telling men what they are, they represent to them what they should 
3 Excessively precise. 1 Agree (in praising). 



OF VAIN-GLORY 127 
be. Some men are praised maliciously to their hurt, thereby to stir 
envy and jealousy towards them: pessimum genus inimicorum lau- 
dantium [the worst kind of enemies are they that praise]; insomuch 
as it was a proverb amongst the Grecians, that he that was praised 
to his hurt should have a push 2 rise upon his nose; as we say, that a 
blister will rise upon one's tongue that tells a lie. Certainly mod- 
erate praise, used with opportunity, and not vulgar, is that which 
doth the good. Solomon saith, He that praiseth his friend aloud, 
rising early, it shall be to him no better than a curse. Too much 
magnifying of man or matter doth irritate contradiction, and pro- 
cure envy and scorn. To praise a man's self cannot be decent, except 
it be in rare cases; but to praise a man's office or profession, he may 
do it with good grace, and with a kind of magnanimity. The cardi- 
nals of Rome, which are theologues, and friars, and Schoolmen, 
have a phrase of notable contempt and scorn towards civil business: 
for they call all temporal business of wars, embassages, judicature, 
and other employments, sbirrerie, which is under-sheriffries; as if 
they were but matters for under-sheriffs and catchpoles: though 
many times those under-sheriffries do more good than their high 
speculations. St. Paul, when he boasts of himself, he doth oft inter- 
lace, I speak like a fool; but speaking of his calling, he saith, mag- 
nificabo apostolatum meum [I will magnify my mission]. 


LIV 


OF VAIN-GLORY 


IT WAS prettily devised of Æsop, The fly sat upon the axle-tree of 
the chariot wheel, and said, What a dust do I raise! So are there 
some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone or moveth upon 
greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think 
it is they that carry it. They that are glorious must needs be fac- 
tious; for all bravery stands upon comparisons. They must needs 
be violent, to make good their own vaunts. Neither can they be 
secret, and therefore not effectual; but according to the French prov- 
erb, Beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit; Much bruit, little fruit. Yet 
2 Pimple. 



128 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


certainly there is use of this quality in civil affairs. Where there is 
an opinion and fame to be created either of virtue or greatness, these 
men are good trumpeters. Again, as Titus Livius noteth in the 
case of Antiochus and the Ætolians, There are sometimes great 
effects of cross lies; as if a man that negotiates between two princes, 
to draw them to join in a war against the third, doth extol the forces 
of either of them above measure, the one to the other: and some- 
times he that deals between man and man raiseth his own credit 
with both, by pretending greater interest than he hath in either. 
And in these and the like kinds, it often falls out that somewhat 
is produced of nothing; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and 
opinion brings on substance. In militar commanders and soldiers, 
vain-glory is an essential point; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory1 
one courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great enterprise upon 
charge and adventure,2 a composition of glorious natures doth put 
life into business; and those that are of solid and sober natures have 
more of the ballast than of the sail. In fame of learning, the flight 
will be slow without some feathers of ostentation. Qui de contem- 
nenda gloria libros scribunt, nomen, suum inscribunt [They that 
write books on the worthlessness of glory, take care to put their 
names on the title page]. Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men full 
of ostentation. Certainly vain-glory helpeth to perpetuate a man's 
memory; and virtue was never so beholding to human nature, as 
it received his due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of 
Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well, if it had 
not been joined with some vanity in themselves; like unto varnish, 
that makes ceilings not only shine but last. But all this while, when 
I speak of vain-glory, I mean not of that property that Tacitus doth 
attribute to Mucianus; Omnium quæ dixerat feceratque arte quadam 
ostentator [A man that had a kind of art of setting forth to advan- 
tage all that he had said or done]: for that proceeds not of vanity, 
but of natural magnanimity and discretion; and in some persons is 
not only comely, but gracious. For excusations, cessions, modesty 
itself well governed, are but arts of ostentation. And amongst those 
arts there is none better than that which Plinius Secundus speaketh 
of, which is to be liberal of praise and commendation to others, in 
1 Boasting. 2 Cost and risk. 



OF HONOR AND REPUTATION 12 9 
that wherein a man's self hath any perfection. For saith Pliny very 
wittily, In commending another you do yourself right; for he that 
YOll commend is either superior to you in that you commend, or 
inferior. If he be inferior, if he be to be commended, you much 
more; if he be superior, if he be not to be commended, you much less. 
Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the 
idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts. 


LV 


OF HONOR AND REPUTATION 


THE winning of honor is but the revealing of a man's virtue and 
worth without disadvantage. For some in their actions do woo and 
effect honor and reputation; which sort of men are commonly much 
talked of, but inwardly litde admired. And some, contrariwise, 
darken their virtue in the show of it; so as they be undervalued in 
opinion. If a man perform that which hath not been attempted be- 
fore; or attempted and given over; or hath been achieved, but not 
with so good circumstance; he shall purchase more honor, than by 
effecting a matter of greater difficulty or virtue, wherein he is but a 
follower. If a man so temper his actions, as in some one of them 
he doth content every faction or combination of people, the music 
will be the fuller. A man is an ill husband 1 of his honor, that 
entereth into any action, the failing wherein may disgrace him more 
than the carrying of it through can honor him. Honor that is gained 
and broken 2 upon another hath the quickest reflection, like diamonds 
cut with facets. And therefore let a man contend to excel any com- 
petitors of his in honor, in outshooting them, if he can, in their own 
bow. Discreet followers and servants help much to reputation. 
Omnis fama a domesticis emanat [All fame proceeds from serv- 
ants]. Envy, which is the canker of honor, is best extinguished by 
declaring a man's self in his ends rather to seek merit than fame; 
and by attributing a man's successes rather to divine Providence 
and felicity, than to his own virtue or policy. The true marshalling 
of the degrees of sovereign honor are these: In the first place are 
conditores imperiorum, founders of states and commonwealths; such 
1 Manager. 2 Made to shine by competition. 



130 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
as were Romulus, Cyrus, Cæsar, Ottoman, Ismael. In the second 
place are legislatores, lawgivers; which are also called second found- 
ers or perpetui principes [perpetual rulers], because they govern by 
their ordinances after they are gone; such were Lycurgus, Solon, 
Justinian, Eadgar, Alphonsus of Castile, the Wise, that made the 
Siete Partidai [Seven Parts]. In the third place are liberatores, or 
salvatores [saviors], such as compound the long miseries of civil 
wars, or deliver their countries from servitude of strangers or ty- 
rants; as Augustus Cæsar, Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, 
King Henry the Seventh of England, King Henry the Fourth of 
France. In the fourth place are propagatores or propugnatores im- 
perii [champions of the empire]; such as in honorable wars enlarge 
their territories, or make noble defence against invaders. And in 
the last place are patres patriæ [fathers of their country]; which 
reign justly, and make the times good wherein they live. Both which 
last kinds need no examples, they are in such number. Degrees 
of honor in subjects are, first participes curarum [participants in 
cares], those upon whom princes do discharge the greatest weight 
of their affairs; their right hands, as we call them. The next are 
duces belli, great leaders [in war]; such as are princes' lieutenants, 
and do them notable services in the wars. The third are gratiosi, 
favorites; such as exceed not this scantling;' to be solace to the sov- 
ereign, and harmless to the people. And the fourth, ncgotiis pares 
[equals in business]; such as have great places under princes, and 
execute their places with sufficiency. There is an honor, likewise, 
which may be ranked amongst the greatest which happeneth rarely; 
that is, of such as sacrifice themselves to death or danger for the 
good of their country; as was M. Regulus, and the two Decii. 


LVI 


OF JUDICATURE 


JUDGES ought to remember that their office is jus dicere, and not 
jus dare; to interpret law, and not to make law, or give law. Else will 
it be like the authority claimed by the Church of Rome, which under 
pretext of exposition of Scripture doth not stick to add and alter; 
3 The Spanish code of laws. 4 Measure. 



OF JUDICATURE 131 
and to pronounce that which they do not find; and by show of 
antiquity to introduce novelty. Judges ought to be more learned 
than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than 
confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper 
virtue. Cursed (saith the law) is he that removeth the landmark. 
The mislayer of a mere-stone l is to blame. But it is the unjust 
judge that is the capital remover of landmarks, when he defineth 
amiss of lands and property. One foul sentence doth more hurt than 
many foul examples. For these do but corrupt the stream, the other 
corrupteth the fountain. So saith Solomon, F ons turbatus, et vena 
corrupta, est Justus cadens in causa sua coram adversario [A right- 
eous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain 
or a corrupt spring]. The office of judges may have reference unto 
the parties that sue, unto the advocates that plead, unto the clerks 
and ministers of justice underneath them, and to the sovereign or 
state above them. 
First, for the causes or parties that sue. There be (saith the Scrip- 
ture) that turn judgment into wormwood; and surely there be also 
that turn it into vinegar; for injustice maketh it bitter, and delays 
make it sour. The principal duty of a judge is to suppress force and 
fraud; whereof force is the more pernicious when it is open, and 
fraud when it is close and disguised. Add thereto contentious suits, 
which ought to be spewed out, as the surfeit of courts. A judge 
ought to prepare his way to a just sentence, as God useth to prepare 
his way, by raising valleys and taking down hills: so when there 
appeareth on either side an high hand, violent prosecution, cunning 
advantages taken, combination, power, great counsel, then is the 
virtue of a judge seen, to make inequality equal; that he may plant 
his judgment as upon an even ground. Qui fortiter emungit, elicit 
sanguinem [Violent wringing makes the nose bleed]; and where 
the wine-press is hard wrought, it yields a harsh wine, that tastes 
of the grape-stone. Judges must beware of hard constructions and 
strained inferences; for there is no worse torture than the torture of 
laws. Specially in case of laws penal, they ought to have care 
that that which was meant for terror be not turned into rigor; and 
that they bring not upon the people that shower whereof the Scrip- 
t Boundary stone. 



132 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
ture speaketh, Pluet super eos laqueos [He will rain snares upon 
them]; for penal laws pressed are a shower of snares upon the people. 
Therefore let penal laws, if they have been sleepers of long, or if 
they be grown unfit for the present time, be by wise judges confined 
in the execution: Judicis officium est, ut res, ita tempora rerum, etc. 
[A judge must have regard to the time as well as to the matter]. In 
causes of life and death, judges ought (as far as the law permitteth) 
in justice to remember mercy; and to cast a severe eye upon the 
example, but a merciful eye upon the person. 
Secondly, for the advocates and counsel that plead. Patience and 
gravity of hearing is an essential part of justice; and an overspeaking 
judge is no well-tuned cymbal. It is no grace to a judge first to find 
that which he might have heard in due time from the bar; or to 
show quickness of conceit in cutting off evidence or counsel too 
short; or to prevent information by questions, though pertinent. 
The parts of a judge in hearing are four: to direct the evidence; to 
moderate length, repetition, or impertinency of speech; to recapitu- 
late, select, and collate the material points of that which hath been 
said; and to give the rule or sentence. Whatsoever is above these is 
too much; and proceedeth either of glory and willingness to speak, 
or of impatience to hear, or of shortness of memory, or of want of 
a staid and equal attention. It is a strange thing to see that the bold- 
ness of advocates should prevail with judges; whereas they should 
imitate God, in whose seat they sit; who represseth the presumptu- 
ous, and giveth grace to the modest. But it is more strange, that 
judges should have noted favorites; which cannot but cause multi- 
plication of fees, and suspicion of by-ways. There is due from the 
judge to the advocate some commendation and gracing, where 
causes are well handled and fair pleaded; especially towards the side 
which obtaineth not; for that upholds in the client the reputation 
of his counsel, and beats down in him the conceit of his cause. There 
is likewise due to the public a civil reprehension of advocates, where 
there appeareth cunning counsel, gross neglect, slight information, 
indiscreet pressing, or an over-bold defence. And let not the counsel 
at the bar chop! with the judge, nor wind himself into the handling 
of the cause anew after the judge hath declared his sentence; but, 
Z Bandy words. 



OF JUDICATURE 133 
on the other side, let not the judge meet the cause half way, nor 
give occasion for the party to say his counselor proofs were not heard. 
Thirdly, for that that concerns clerks and ministers. The place 
of justice is an hallowed place; and therefore not only the bench, 
but the foot-pace 3 and precincts and purprise 4 thereof, ought to be 
preserved without scandal and corruption. For certainly grapes (as 
the Scripture saith) will not be gathered of thorns or thistles; neither 
can justice yield her fruit with sweetness amongst the briars and 
brambles of catching and polling 5 clerks and ministers. The attend- 
ance of courts is subject to four bad instruments. First, certain per- 
sons that are sowers of suits; which make the court swell, and the 
country pine. The second sort is of those that engage courts in quar- 
rels of jurisdiction, and are not truly amici curiæ, but parasiti curiæ 
[not friends but parasites of the court], in puffing a court up beyond 
her bounds, for their own scraps and advantage. The third sort is 
of those that may be accounted the left hands of courts; persons that 
are full of nimble and sinister tricks and shifts, whereby they pervert 
the plain and direct courses of courts, and bring justice into oblique 
lines and labyrinths. And the fourth is the poller and exacter of 
fees; which justifies the common resemblance of the courts of justice 
to the bush whereunto while the sheep flies for defence in weather, 
he is sure to lose part of his fleece. On the other side, an ancient 
clerk, skilful in precedents, wary in proceeding, and understanding 
in the business of the court, is an excellent finger of a court; and 
doth many times point the way to the judge himself. 
Fourthly, for that which may concern the sovereign and estate. 
Judges ought above all to remember the conclusion of the Roman 
Twelve Tables; Salus populi suprema lex [The supreme law of all 
is the weal of the people]; and to know that laws, except they be in 
order to that end, are but things captious, and oracles not well in- 
spired. Therefore it is an happy thing in a state when kings and 
states do often consult with judges; and again when judges do often 
consult with the king and state: the one, when there is matter of 
law intervenient in business of state; the other, when there is some 
consideration of state intervenient in matter of law. For many times 
the things deduced 6 to judgment may be meum and tuum [mine 
3 Lobby. .. Enclosure. :i Extorting fees. 6 Brought into court. 



134 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


and thine], when the reason 7 and consequence thereof may trench td 
point of estate: I call matter of estate, not only the parts of sov- 
ereignty, but whatsoever introduceth any great alteration or danger- 
ous precedent; or concerneth manifestly any great portion of people. 
And let no man weakly conceive that just laws and true policy have 
any antipathy; for they are like the spirits and sinews, that one 
moves with the other. Let judges also remember, that Solomon's 
throne was supported by lions on both sides: let them be lions, but 
yet lions under the throne; being circumspect that they do not 
check or oppose any points of sovereignty. Let not judges also be 
ignorant of their own right, as to think there is not left to them, as 
a principal part of their office, a wise use and application of laws. 
For they may remember what the apostle saith of a greater law than 
theirs; Nos scimus quia lex bona est, modo quis ea utatur legitime 
[We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully]. 


LVII 


OF ANGER 


To SEEK to extinguish anger utterly is but a braveryl of the Stoics. 
We have better oracles: Be angry, but sin not. Let not the sun go 
down upon your anger. Anger must be limited and confined both 
in race and in time. We will first speak how the natural inclina- 
tion and habit to be angry may be attempered and calmed. Sec- 
ondly, how the particular motions of anger may be repressed, or at 
least refrained from doing mischief. Thirdly, how to raise anger or 
appease anger in another. 
For the first; there is no other way but to meditate and ruminate 
well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles man's life. And the 
best time to do this is to look back upon anger when the fit is 
thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, That anger is like ruin, which 
breaks itself upon that it falls. The Scripture exhorteth us to possess 
our souls in patience. Whosoever is out of patience, is out of posses- 
sion of his soul. Men must not turn bees; 
. . . animasque in vulnere ponunt 
[that put their lives in the sting]. 
7 Principle. 8 Touch. 1 Boast. 



OF ANGER 135 
Anger is certainly a kind of baseness; as it appears well in the 
weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns; children, women, old 
folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger 
rather with scorn than with fear; so that they may seem rather to be 
above the injury than below it; which is a thing easily done, if a 
man will give law to himself in it. 
For the second point; the causes and motives of anger are chiefly 
three. First, to be too sensible of hurt; for no man is angry that 
feels not himself hurt; and therefore tender and delicate persons 
must needs be oft angry; they have so many things to trouble them, 
which more robust natures have little sense of. The next is, the 
apprehension and construction of the injury offered to be, in the 
circumstances thereof, full of contempt: for contempt is that which 
putteth an edge upon anger, as much or more than the hurt itself. 
And therefore when men are ingenious in picking out circumstances 
of contempt, they do kindle their anger much. Lastly, opinion of the 
touch of a man's reputation doth multiply and sharpen anger. 
Wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, as Consalvo was 
wont to say, telam honoris crassiorem ran honor of a stouter web]. 
But in all refrainings of anger, it is the best remedy to win time; 
and to make a man's self believe, that the opportunity of his revenge 
is not yet come, but that he foresees a time for it; and so to still him- 
self in the meantime, and reserve it. 
To contain anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, 
there be two things whereof you must have special caution. The 
one, of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate 2 
and proper;3 for cummunia maledicta [common revilings] are noth- 
ing so much; and again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets; 
for that makes him not fit for society. The other, that you do not 
peremptorily break off, in any business, in a fit of anger; but howso- 
ever you show bitterness, do not act anything that is not revocable. 
For raising and appeasing anger in another; it is done chiefly by 
choosing of times, when men are frowardest and worst disposed, to 
incense them. Again, by gathering (as was touched before) all that 
you can find out to aggravate the contempt. And the two remedies 
are by the contraries. The former to take good times, when first 
2 Stinging. 3 Personal. 



13 6 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


to relate to a man an angry business; for the first impression is much; 
and the other is, to sever, as much as may be, the construction of the 
injury from the point of contempt; imputing it to misunderstand 
ing, fear, passion, or what you will. 


LVIII 


OF VICISSITUDE OF THINGS 


SOLOMON saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as 
Plato had an imagination, That all knowledge was but remem- 
brance; so Solomon giveth his sentence, That all novelty is but 
oblivion. Whereby you may see that the river of Lethe runneth as 
well above ground as below. There is an abstruse astrologer that 
saith, If it were not for two things that are constant (the one is, that 
the fixed stars ever stand a like distance one from another, and never 
come nearer, together, nor go further asunder; the other, that the 
diurnal motion perpetually keepeth time), no individual would last 
one moment. Certain it is, that the matter is in a perpetual flux, 
and never at a stay. The great winding-sheets, that bury all things 
in oblivion, are two; deluges and earthquakes. As for conflagra- 
tions and great droughts, they do not merely dispeople and destroy. 
Phaëton's car went but a day. And the three years' drought in the 
time of Elias was but particular, and left people alive. As for the 
great burnings by lightnings, which are often in the West Indies, they 
are but narrow. But in the other two destructions, by deluge and 
earthquake, it is further to be noted, that the remnant of people 
which hap to be reserved, are commonly ignorant and mountainous 
people, that can give no account of the time past; so that the oblivion 
is all one as if none had been left. If you consider well of the people 
of the West Indies, it is very probable that they are a newer or a 
younger people than the people of the Old W orId. And it is much 
more likely that the destruction that hath heretofore been there 
was not by earthquakes (as the Egyptian priest told Solon concern- 
ing the island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake), 
but rather that it was desolated by a particular deluge. For earth- 
quakes are seldom in those parts. But on the other side, they have 



OF VICISSITUDE OF THINGS 137 
such pouring rivers, as the rivers of Asia and Africk and Europe 
are but brooks to them. Their Andes, likewise, or mountains, are 
far higher than those with us; whereby it seems that the remnants 
of generation of men were in such a particular deluge saved. As for 
the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jealousy of sects doth 
much extinguish the memory of things; traducing Gregory the: 
Great, that he did what in him lay to extinguish all heathen an- 
tiquities; I do not find that those zeals do any great effects, nor last 
long; as it appeared in the succession of Sabinian/ who did revive 
the former antiquities. 
The vicissitude of mutations in the superior globe! are no fit mat- 
ter for this present argument. It may be, Plato's great year,1 if the 
world should last so long, would have some effect; not in renewing 
the state of like individuals (for that is the fume of those that con- 
ceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these 
things below than indeed they have), but in gross. Comets, out of 
question, have likewise power and effect over the gross and mass of 
things; but they are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their 
journey, than wisely observed in their effects; specially in their re- 
spective effects; that is, what kind of comet, for magnitude, color, 
version of the beams, placing in the reign of heaven, or lasting, 
produceth what kind of effects. 
There is a toy which I have heard, and I would not have it given 
over, but waited upon a little. They say it is observed in the Low 
Countries (I know not in what part) that every five and thirty 
years the same kind and suit of years and weathers comes about 
again; as great frosts, great wet, great droughts, warm winters, sum- 
mers with little heat, and the like; and they call it the Prime. It is 
a thing I do the rather mention, because, computing backwards, I 
have found some concurrence. 
But to leave these points of nature, and to come to men. The 
greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects 
and religions. For those orbs rule in men's minds most. The true 
religion is built upon the rock: the rest are tossed upon the waves 
of time. To speak, therefore, of the causes of new sects; and to give 
1 The Pope who succeeded Gregory the Great. 2 The heavens. 
3 When the great cycle of all the heavenly motions shall be completed. 



13 8 


THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 


some counsel concerning them, as far as the weakness of humar 
judgment can give stay to so great revolutions. 
When the religion formerly received is rent by discords; and 
when the holiness of the professors of religion is decayed and full 
of scandal; and withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and barbarous; 
you may doubt 4 the springing up of a new sect; if then also there 
should arise any extravagant and strange spirit to make himself 
author thereof. All which points held when Mahomet published 
his law. If a new sect have not two properties, fear it not; for it will 
not spread. The one is the supplanting or the opposing of authority 
established; for nothing is more popular than that. The other is the 
giving licence to pleasures and a voluptuous life. For as for specu- 
lative heresies (such as were in ancient times the Arians, and now 
the Arminians), though they work mightily upon men's wits, yet 
they do not produce any great alterations in states; except it be by 
the help of civil occasions. There be three manner of plantations of 
new sects. By the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence and 
wisdom of speech and persuasion; and by the sword. For martyr- 
doms, I reckon them amongst miracles; because they seem to exceed 
the strength of human nature: and I may do the like of superlative 
and admirable holiness of life. Surely there is no better way to stop 
the rising of new sects and schisms than to reform abuses; to com- 
pound the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with 
sanguinary persecutions; and rather to take off the principal authors 
by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence 
and bitterness. 
The changes and vicissitude in wars are many; but chiefly in three 
things; in the seats or stages of the war; in the weapons; and in 
the manner of the conduct. Wars, in ancient time, seemed more 
to move from east to west; for the Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, 
Tartars (which were the invaders) were all eastern people. It is 
true, the Gauls were western; but we read but of two incursions of 
theirs: the one to Gallo-Grecia, the other to Rome. But east and 
west have no certain points of heaven; and no more have the wars, 
either from the east or west, any certainty of observation. But north 
and south are fixed; and it hath seldom or never been seen that the 
4 Fear. 



OF VICISSITUDE OF THINGS 


139 


far southern people have invaded the northern, but contrarIWISe. 
Whereby it is manifest that the northern tract of the world is in 
nature the more martial region: be it in respect of the stars of that 
hemisphere; or of the great continents that are upon the north, 
whereas the south part, for aught that is known, is almost all sea; 
or (which is most apparent) of the cold of the northern parts, which 
is that which, without aid of discipline, doth make the bodies hardest, 
and the courages warmest. 
Upon the breaking and shivering of a great state and empire, you 
may be sure to have wars. For great empires, while they stand, do 
enervate and destroy the forces of the natives which they have sub- 
dued, resting upon their own protecting forces; and then when they 
fail also, all goes to ruin, and they become a prey. So was it in the 
decay of the Roman empire; and likewise in the empire of Almaigne, 
after Charles the Great, every bird taking a feather; and were not 
unlike to befall to Spain, if it should break. The great accessions and 
unions of kingdoms do likewise stir up wars; for when a state grows 
to an over-power, it is like a great flood, that will be sure to over- 
flow. As it hath been seen in the states of Rome, Turkey, Spain, and 
others. Look when the world hath fewest barbarous peoples, but 
such as commonly will not marry or generate, except they know 
means to live (as it is almost everywhere at this day, except Tartary), 
there is no danger of inundations of people; but when there be great 
shoals of people, which go on to populate, without foreseeing means 
of life and sustentation, it is of necessity that once in an age or two 
they discharge a portion of their people upon other nations; which 
the ancient northern people were wont to do by lot; casting lots what 
part should stay at home, and what should seek their fortunes. 
When a warlike state grows soft and effeminate, they may be sure 
of a war. For commonly such states are grown rich in the time of 
their degenerating; and so the prey inviteth, and their decay in valor 
encourageth a war. 
As for the weapons, it hardly falleth under rule and observation: 
yet we see even they have returns and vicissitudes. For certain it is, 
that ordnance was known in the city of the Oxidrakes in India; 
and was that which the Macedonians called thunder and lightning, 
and magic. And it is we)) known that the use of ordnance hath been 



140 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
in China above two thousand years. The conditions of weapons: 
and their improvement, are; First, the fetching afar off; for that out. 
runs the danger; as it is seen in ordnance and muskets. Secondly, 
the strength of the percussion; wherein likewise ordnance do exceed 
all arietations 5 and ancient inventions. The third is, the commodiom 
use of them; as that they may serve in all weathers; that the carriag( 
may be light and manageable; and the like. 
For the conduct of the war: at the first, men rested extremel
 
upon number: they did put the wars likewise upon main force and 
valor; pointing days for pitched fields, and so trying it out upon an 
even match: and they were more ignorant in ranging and arrayin,g 
their battles. 6 After they grew to rest upon number rather compel 
tent than vast; they grew to advantages of place, cunning diversions: 
and the like: and they grew more skilful in the ordering of their 
battles. 
In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a 
state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the 
declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize. Learn- 
ing hath his infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; 
then his youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then his strength 
of years, when it is solid and reduced;7 and lastly, his old age, when 
it waxeth dry and exhaust. But it is not good to look too long upon 
these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest we become giddy. As for 
the philology8 of them, that is but a circle of tales, and therefore not 
fit for this writing. 


LIX 


OF FAME 1 


A Fragment 
THE poets make Fame a monster. They describe her in part finely 
and elegantly, and in part gravely and sententiously. They say, look 
how many feathers she hath, so many eyes she hath underneath; 
so many tongues; so many voices; she pricks up so many ears. 
5 Battering-rams. 6 Battalions. 7 Brought within bounds. 8 History. 
1 Fame is used here in the two 5enses of reputation and rumor. 



OF FAME 141 
This is a flourish. There follow excellent parables; as that she 
gathereth strength in going; that she goeth upon the ground and 
yet hideth her head in the clouds; that in the daytime she sitteth 
in a watch tower and flieth most by night; that she mingleth things 
done with things not done; and that she is a terror to great cities. 
But that which passeth all the rest is: They do recount that the 
Earth, mother of the giants that made war against Jupiter and were 
by him destroyed, thereupon in an anger brought forth Fame. For 
certain it is that rebels, figured by the giants, and seditious fames 
and libels are but brothers and sisters, masculine and feminine. But 
now, if a man can tame this monster, and bring her to feed at the 
hand, and govern her, and with her fly other ravening fowl and kill 
them, it is somewhat worth. But we are infected with ,the style of 
the poets. To speak now in a sad and serious manner: There is not 
in all the politics a place less handled and more worthy to be handled 
than this of fame. We will therefore speak of these points: What 
are false fames; and what are true fames; and how they may be best 
discerned; how fames may be sown and raised; how they may be 
spread and multiplied; and how they may be checked and laid dead. 
And other things concerning the nature of fame. Fame is of that 
force, as there is scarcely any great action wherein it hath not a great 
part; especially in the war. Mucianus undid Vitellius by a fame 
that he scattered: that Vitellius had in purpose to remove the legions 
of Syria into Germany and the legions of Germany into Syria; 
whereupon the legions of Syria were infinitely inflamed. Julius 
Cæsar took Pompey unprovided and laid asleep his industry and 
preparations by a fame that he cunningly gave out: Cæsar's own 
soldiers loved him not, and being wearied with the wars and laden 
with the spoils of Gaul, would forsake him as soon as he came into 
Italy. Livia settled all things for the succession of her son Tiberius 
by continual giving out that her husband Augustus was upon recov- 
ery and amendment. And it is an usual thing with the pashas to con- 
ceal the death of the Great Turk from the janizaries 2 and men of 
war, to save the sacking of Constantinople and other towns, as their 
manner is. Themistocles made Xerxes, king of Persia, post apace 
out of Grecia by giving out that the Grecians had a purpose to 
2 The Sultan's bodyguard. 



142 THE ESSAYS OF FRANCIS BACON 
break his bridge of ships which he had made athwart Hellespont. 
There be a thousand such like examples; and the more they are, the 
less they need to be repeated; because a man meeteth with them 
everywhere. Therefore let all wise governors have as great a watch 
and care over fames as they have of the actions and designs them- 
selves. 


[The essay was not finished.] 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 


BY 
SIR FRANCIS BACON 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 


BACON'S literary executor, Dr. Rawley, published "The New Atlantis" 
in 1627, the year after the author's death. It seems to have been written 
about 1623, during that period of literary activity which followed Bacon's 
political fall. None of Bacon's writings gives in short space so vivid a 
picture of his tastes and aspirations as this fragment of the plan of an 
ideal commonwealth. The generosity and enlightenment, the dignity 
and splendor, the piety and public spirit, of the inhabitants of Bensalem 
represent the ideal qualities which Bacon the statesman desired rather 
than hoped to see characteristic of his own country; and in Solomon's 
House we have Bacon the scientist indulging without restriction his 
prophetic vision of the future of human knowledge. No reader ac- 
quainted in any degree with the processes and results of modern scien- 
tific inquiry can fail to be struck by the numerous approximations made 
by Bacon's imagination to the actual achievements of modern times. The 
plan and organization of his great college lay down the main lines of 
the modern research university; and both in pure and applied science he 
anticipates a strikingly large number of recent inventions and dis- 
coveries. In still another way is "The New Atlantis" typical of Bacon's 
attitude. In spite of the enthusiastic and broad-minded schemes he laid 
down for the pursuit of truth, Bacon always had an eye to utility. The 
advancement of science which he sought was conceived by him as a 
means to a practical end-the increase of man's control over nature, and 
the comfort and convenience of humanity. For pure metaphysics, or any 
form of abstract thinking that yielded no "fruit," he had little interest; 
and this leaning to the useful is shown in the practical applications of 
the discoveries made by the scholars of Solomon's House. Nor does the 
interest of the work stop here. It contains much, both in its political 
and in its scientific ideals, that we have as yet by no means achieved, but 
which contain valuable elements of suggestion and stimulus for the 
future. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 


W E SAILED from Peru, (where we had continued by the 
space of one whole year,) for China and Japan, by the 
South Seaj taking with us victuals for twelve months; 
and had good wind
 from the east, though soft and weak, for five 
months space, and more. But then the wind came about, and settled 
in the west for many days, so as we could make little or no way, and 
were sometimes in purpose to turn back. But then again there 
arose strong and great winds from the south, with a point east, 
which carried us up (for all that we could do), towards the north; 
by which time our victuals failed us, though we had made good 
spare of them. So that finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest 
wilderness of waters in the world, without victuals, we gave our- 
selves for lost men and prepared for death. Yet we did lift up our 
hearts and voices t';J God above, who showeth his wonders in the 
deep
 beseeching him of his mercy, that as in the beginning he dis- 
covered the face of the deep, and brought forth dry land, so he would 
now discover land to us, that we might not perish. 
And it came to pass that the next day about evening, we saw 
within a kenning 1 before us, towards the north, as it were thick 
clouds, which did put us in some hope of land; knowing how that 
part of the South Sea was utterly unknown; and might have islands, 
or continents, that hitherto were not come to light. Wherefore we 
bent our course thither, where we saw the appearance of land, all 
that night; and in the dawning of the next day, we might plainly 
discern that it was a land; flat to our sight, and full of boscage;2 
which made it show the more dark. And aftel an hour and a half's 
sailing, we entered into a good haven. being the port of a fair city; 
not great indeed, but well built, and that gave a pleasant view from 
the sea: and we thinking every minute long, till we were on land, 
came close to the shore, and offered to land. But straightways we 
saw divers of the people, with bastons 3 in their hands (as it were) 
1 Within sight. 2 Woods. 3 Staves. 
145 



146 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
forbidding us to land; yet without any cries of fierceness, but only 
as warning us off, by signs that they made. Whereupon being not a 
little discomforted; we were advising with ourselves, what we 
should do. 
During which time, there made forth to us a small boat, with 
about eight persons in it; whereof one of them had in his hand a 
tipstaff of a yellow cane, tipped at both ends with blue, who came 
aboard our ship, without any show of distrust at all. And when he 
saw one of our number, present himself somewhat before the rest, 
he drew forth a little scroll of parchment (somewhat yellower than 
our parchment, and shining like the leaves of writing tables, but 
otherwise soft and flexible,) and delivered it to our foremost man. 
In which scroll were written in ancient Hebrew, and in ancient 
Greek, and in good Latin of the school, 5 and in Spanish, these words: 
Land ye not
 none of you; and provide to be gone
 from this coast, 
within sixteen days
 except you have further time given you. Mean- 
wht1e, if you want fresh water or victuals
 or help for your sick, 
or that your ship needeth repairs
 write down your wants
 and 
you shall have that
 which belongeth to mercy. This scroll was 
signed with a stamp of cherubim's wings, not spread, but hang- 
ing downwards; and by them a cross. This being delivered, 
the officer returned, and left only a servant with us to receive our 
answer. 
Consulting hereupon amongst ourselves, we were much perplexed. 
The denial of landing and hasty warning us away troubled us much; 
on the other side, to find that the people had languages, and were so 
full of humanity, did comfort us not a little. And above all, the 
sign of the cross to that instrument was to us a great rejoicing, and 
as it were a certain presage of good. Our answer was in the Span- 
ish tongue; That for our ship
 it was well; for we had rather met 
with calms and contrary winds than any tempests. For our sick
 
they were many, and in very ill case; so that if they were not per- 
mitted to land
 they ran danger of their lives. Our other wants we 
set down in particular; adding, That we had some little store of 
merchandise
 which if it pleased them to deal for
 it might supply our 
wants
 without being chargeable unto them. We offered some re- 
4 Discouraged. 6 Academic, as opposed to popular, Latin. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 


147 


ward in pistolets ß unto the servant, and a piece of crimson velvet 
to be presented to the officer; but the servant took them not, nor 
would scarce look upon them; and so left us, and went back in 
another little boat, which was sent for him. 
About three hours after we had dispatched our answer, there 
came towards us a person (as it seemed) of place. He had on him 
a gown with wide sleeves, of a kind of water chamolet,7 of an excel- 
lent azure colour, far more glossy than ours; his under apparel was 
green; and so was his hat, being in the form of a turban, daintily 
made, and not so huge as the Turkish turbans; and the locks of his 
hair came down below the brims of it. A reverend man was he to 
behold. He came in a boat, gilt in some part of it, with four persons 
more only in that boat; and was followed by another boat, wherein 
were some twenty. When he was come within a Bightshot 8 of our 
ship, signs were made to us, that we should send forth some to meet 
him upon the water; which we presently did in our ship-boat, send- 
ing the principal man amongst us save one, and four of our number 
with him. 
When we were come within six yards of their boat, they called 
to us to stay, and not to approach farther; which we did. And there- 
upon the man, whom I before described, stood up, and with a loud 
voice, in Spanish, asked, "Are ye Christians?" We answered, "We 
were;" fearing the less, because of the cross we had seen in the sub- 
scription. At which answer the said person lifted up his right hand 
towards Heaven, and drew it softly to his mouth (which is the 
gesture they use, when they thank God;) and then said: "If ye will 
swear (all of you) by the merits of the Saviour, that ye are no pirates, 
nor have shed blood, lawfully, nor unlawfully within forty days 
past, you may have licence to come on land." We said, "We were 
all ready to take that oath." Whereupon one of those that were 
with him, being (as it seemed) a notary, made an entry of this act. 
Which done, another of the attendants of the great person which 
was with him in the same boat, after his Lord had spoken a little 
to him, said aloud: "My Lord would have you know, that it is not 
of pride, or greatness, that he cometh not aboard your ship; but for 


6 Pistoles, Spanish gold coins. 7 Camlet with a wavy surface. 
S A flight was a light arrow. 



148 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
that in your answer you declare that you have many sick amongst 
you, he was warned by the Conservator of Health of the city that 
he should keep a distance." We bowed ourselves towards him, and 
answered, "We were his humble servants; and accounted for great 
honour, and singular humanity towards us, that which was already 
done; but hoped well, that the nature of the sickness of our men 
was not infectious." So he returned; and a while after came the 
Notary to us aboard our ship; holding in his hand a fruit of that 
country, like an orange, but of color between orange-tawney and 
scarlet; which cast a most excellent odour. He used it (as it seemeth) 
for a preservative against infection. He gave us our oath; "By the 
name of Jesus, and his merits:" and after told us, that the next day, 
by six of the Clock, in the Morning, we should be sent to, and 
brought to the Strangers' House, (so he called it,) where we should 
be accommodated of things, both for our whole, and for our sick. So 
he left us; and when we offered him some pistolets, he smiling said, 
"He must not be twice paid for one labour:" meaning (as I take it) 
that he had salary sufficient of the State for his service. For (as I after 
learned) they call an officer that taketh rewards, twice paid. 
The next morning early, there came to us the same officer that 
came to us at first with his cane, and told us, "He came to con- 
duct us to the Strangers' House; and that he had prevented 9 the 
hour, because 10 we might have the whole day before us, for our 
business. For," he said, "if you will follow my advice, there shall 
first go with me some few of you, and see the place, and how it may 
be made convenient for you; and then you may send for your sick, 
and the rest of your number, which ye will bring on land." We 
thanked him, and said, "That this care, which he took of desolate 
strangers, God would reward." And so six of us went on land with 
him: and when we were on land, he went before us, and turned to 
us, and said, "He was but our servant, and our guide." He led us 
through three fair streets; and all the way we went, there were 
gathered some people on both sides, standing in a row; but in so 
civil a fashion, as if it had been, not to wonder at us, but to welcome 
us: and divers of them, as we passed by them, put their arms a little 
abroad;11 which is their gesture, when they did bid any welcome. 
9 Come before. 10 In order that. 11 Stretched out. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 149 
The Strangers' House is a fair and spacious house, built of brick, 
of somewhat a bluer colour than our brick; and with handsome 
windows, some of glass, some of a kind of cambric oiled. He brought 
us first into a fair parlour above stairs, and then asked us, "What 
number of persons we were? And how many sick?" We answered, 
"We were in all, (sick and whole,) one and fifty persons, whereof 
our sick were seventeen." He desired us to have patience a little, and 
to stay till he came back to us; which was about an hour after; and 
then he led us to see the chambers which were provided for us, 
being in number nineteen: they having case 2 it (as it seemeth) that 
four of those chambers, which were better than the rest, might re- 
ceive four of the principal men of our company; and lodge them 
alone by themselves; and the other fifteen chambers were to lodge 
us two and two together. The chambers were handsome and cheer- 
ful chambers, and furnished civilly.13 Then he led us to a long 
gallery, like a dorture/( where he showed us all along the one 
side (for the other side was but wall and window), seventeen cells, 
very neat ones, having partitions of cedar wood. Which gallery and 
cells, being in all forty, (many more than we needed,) were in- 
stituted as an infirmary for sick persons. And he told us withal, 
that as any of our sick waxed well, he might be removed from his 
cell, to a chamber; for which purpose there were set forth ten spare 
chambers, besides the number we spake of before. This done, he 
brought us back to the parlour, and lifting up his cane a little, (as 
they do when they give any charge or command) said to us, "Ye 
are to know, that the custom of the land requireth, that after this 
day and to-morrow, (which we give you for removing of your 
people from your ship,) you are to keep within doors for three days. 
But let it not trouble you, nor do not think yourselves restrained, 
but rather left to your rest and ease. You shall want nothing, and 
there are six of our people appointed to attend you, for any busi- 
ness you may have abroad." We gave him thanks, with all affection 
and respect, and said, "God surely is manifested in this land." We 
offered him also twenty pistolets; but he smiled, and only said; 
"What? twice paid!" And so he left us. 
Soon after our dinner was served in; which wa.
 right good 
12 Planned. 13 Respectably. 14 Dormitory. 



ISO A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
viands, both for bread and meat; better than any collegiate diet, 
that I have known in Europe. We had also drink of three sorts, 
all wholesome and good; wine of the grape; a drink of grain, such 
as is with us our ale, but more clear: And a kind of cider made of a 
fruit of that country; a wonderful pleasing and refreshing drink. 
Besides, there were brought in to us, great store of those scarlet 
oranges, for our sick; which (they said) were an assured remedy 
for sickness taken at sea. There was given us also, a box of small 
gray, or whitish pills, which they wished our sick should take, one 
of the pills, every night before sleep; which (they said) would hasten 
their recovery. 
The next day, after that our trouble of carriage and removing of 
our men and goods out of our ship, was somewhat settled and quiet, 
I thought good to call our company together; and when they were 
assembled, said unto them; "My dear friends, let us know ourselves, 
and how it standeth with us. We are men cast on land, as Jonas 
was, out of the whale's belly, when we were as buried in the deep: 
and now we are on land, we are but between death and life; for we 
are beyond, both the old world, and the new; and whether ever we 
shall see Europe, God only knoweth. It is a kind of miracle hath 
brought us hither: and it must be little less, that shall bring us hence. 
Therefore in regard of our deliverance past, and our danger pres- 
ent, and to come, let us look up to God, and every man reform his 
own ways. Besides we are come here amongst a Christian people, 
full of piety and humanity: let us not bring that confusion of face 
upon ourselves, as to show our vices, or unworthiness before them. 
Yet there is more. For they have by commandment, (though in 
form of courtesy) cloistered us within these walls, for three days: 
who knoweth, whether it be not, to take some taste of our man- 
ners and conditions? 15 and if they find them bad, to banish us 
straightways; if good, to give us further time. For these men that 
they have given us for attendance, may withal have an eye upon us. 
Therefore for God's love, and as we love the weal of our souls and 
bodies, let us so behave ourselves, as we may be at peace with God, 
and may find grace in the eyes of this people." Our company with 
one voice thanked me for my good admonition, and promised me 
15 Dispositions. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 151 
to live soberly and civilly, and without giving any the least occasion 
of offence. So we spent our three days joyfully, and without care, 
in expectation what would be done with us, when they were expired. 
During which time, we had every hour joy of the amendment of 
our sick; who thought themselves cast into some divine pool of 
healing; they mended so kindly/6 and so fast. 
The morrow after our three days were past, there came to us a 
new man, that we had not seen before, clothed in blue as the former 
was, save that his turban was white, with a small red cross on the 
top. He had also a tippet of fine linen. At his coming in, he did 
bend to us a little, and put his arms abroad. We of our parts saluted 
him in a very lowly and submissive manner; as looking that from 
him, we should receive sentence of life, or death: he desired to 
speak with some few of us: whereupon six of us only staid, and the 
rest avoided 17 the room. He said, "I am by office governor of this 
House of Strangers, and by vocation 1 am a Christian priest: and 
therefore am come to you to offer you my service, both as strangers 
and chiefly as Christians. Some things I may tell you, which 1 think 
you will not be unwilling to hear. The State hath given you license 
to stay on land, for the space of six weeks; and let it not trouble 
you, if your occasions ask further time, for the law in this point is 
not precise; and 1 do not doubt, but my self shall be able, to obtain 
for you such further time, as may be convenient. Ye shall also 
understand, that the Strangers' House is at this time rich, and much 
aforehand; for it hath laid up revenue these thirty-seven years; for 
so long it is since any stranger arrived in this part: and therefore 
take ye no care; the State will def ray 18 you all the time you stay; 
neither shall you stay one day the less for that. As for any mer- 
chandise ye have brought, ye shall be well used, and have your re- 
turn, either in merchandise, or in gold and silver: for to us it is all 
one. And if you have any other request to make, hide it not. For 
ye shall find we will not make your countenance to fall by the an- 
swer ye shall receive. Only this 1 must tell you, that none of you 
must go above a karan/' (that is with them a mile and an half) 
"from the walls of the city, without especial leave." 
We answered, after we had looked awhile one upon another, 
16 Naturally. 17 Left. 18 Pay expenses. 



I S2 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
admiring 19 this gracious and parent-like usage; "That we could not 
tell what to say: for we wanted words to express our thanks; and his 
noble free offers left us nothing to ask. It seemed to us, that we had 
before us a picture of our salvation in Heaven; for we that were 
a while since in the jaws of death, were now brought into a place, 
where we found nothing but consolations. For the commandment 
laid upon us, we would not fail to obey it, though it was impossible 
but our hearts should be enflamed to tread further upon this happy 
and holy ground." We added; "That our tongues should first 
cleave to the roofs of our mouths, ere we should forget, either his 
reverend person, or this whole nation, in our prayers." We also 
most humbly besought him, to accept of us as his true servants, by 
as just a right as ever men on earth were bounden; laying and 
presenting, both our persons, and all we had, at his feet. He said; 
"He was a priest, and looked for a priest's reward; which was our 
brotherly love, and the good of our souls and bodies." So he went 
from us, not without tears of tenderness in his eyes; and left us 
also confused with joy and kindness, saying amongst ourselves; 
"That we were come into a land of angels, which did appear to us 
daily, and present us with comforts, which we thought not of, much 
less expected." 
The next day about ten of the clock, the Governor came to us 
again, and after salutations, said familiarly; "That he was come to 
visit us;" and called for a chair, and sat him down: and we, being 
some ten of us, (the rest were of the meaner sort, or else gone 
abroad,) sat down with him. And when we were set, he began 
thus: "We of this island of Bensalem," (for so they call it in their 
language,) "have this; that by means of our solitary situation; and 
of the laws of secrecy, which we have for our travellers, and our 
rare admission of strangers; we know well most part of the habit- 
able world, and are ourselves unknown. Therefore because he that 
knoweth least is fittest to ask questions, it is more reason, for the en- 
tertainment of the time, that ye ask me questions, than that I ask you." 
We answered; "That we humbly thanked him that he would 
give us leave so to do: and that we conceived by the taste we had 
already, that there was no worldly thing on earth, more worthy to 
19 Wondering at. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 153 
be known than the state of that happy land. But above all," (we 
said,) "since that we were met from the several ends of the world, 
and hoped assuredly that we should meet one day in the kingdom 
of Heaven, (for that we were both parts Christians,) we desired to 
know, (in respect that land was so remote, and so divided by vast 
and unknown seas, from the land where our Saviour walked on 
earth,) who was the apostle of that nation, and how it was converted 
to the faith?" It appeared in his face that he took great content- 
ment in this our question: he said; "Ye knit my heart to you, by 
asking this question in the first place; for it sheweth that you first 
seek the kingdom of heaven; and I shall gladly, and briefly, satisfy 
your demand. 
"About twenty years after the ascension of our Saviour, it came 
to pass, that there was seen by the people of Renfusa, (a city upon 
the eastern coast of our island,) within night, (the night was cloudy, 
and calm,) as it might be some mile into the sea, a great pillar of 
light; not sharp, but in form of a column, or cylinder, rising from 
the sea a great way up towards heaven; and on the top of it was seen 
a lar
 cross of light, more bright and resplendent than the body 
of the pillar. Upon which so strange a spectacle, the people of the 
city gathered apace together upon the sands, to wonder; and so 
after put themselves into a number of small boats, to go nearer to 
this marvellous sight. But when the boats were come within 
(about) sixty yards of the pillar, they found themselves all bound, 
and could go no further; yet so as they might move to go about, 
but might not approach nearer: so as the boats stood all as in a 
theatre, beholding this light as an heavenly sign. It so fell out, that 
there was in one of the boats one of the wise men, of the society of 
Salomon's House; which house, or college (my good brethren) is 
the very eye of this kingdom; who having awhile attentively and 
devoutly viewed and contemplated this pillar and cross, fell down 
upon his face; and then raised himself upon his knees, and lifting 
up his hands to heaven, made his prayers in this manner. 
"'LORD God of heaven and earth, thou hast vouchsafed of thy grace 
to those of our order, to know thy works of Creation, and the secrets of 
them: and to discern (as far as appertaineth to the generations of men) 
between divine miracles, works of nature, works of art, and impostures 



154 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
and illusions of all sorts. I do here acknowledge and testify before this 
people, that the thing which we now see before our eyes is thy Finger 
and a true Miracle. And forasmuch as we learn in our books that thou 
never workest miracles, but to a divine and excellent end, (for the laws 
of nature are thine own laws, and thou exceedest them not but upon 
great cause,) we most humbly beseech thee to prosper this great sign, 
and to give us the interpretation and use of it in mercy; which thou dost 
in some part secretly promise by sending it unto us.' 


"When he had made his prayer, he presently found the boat he 
was in, moveable and unbound; whereas all the rest remained still 
fast; and taking that for an assurance of leave to approach, he 
caused the boat to be softly and with silence rowed towards the 
pillar. But ere he came near it, the pillar and cross of light brake 
up, and cast itself abroad, as it were, into a firmament of many 
stars; which also vanished soon after, and there was nothing left 
to be seen, but a small ark, or chest of cedar, dry, and not wet at all 
with water, though it swatr... And in the fore-end of it, which was 
towards him, grew a small green branch of palm; and when the 
wise man had taken it, with all reverence, into his boat, it opened 
of itself, and there were found in it a Book and a Letter; both writ- 
ten in fine parchment, and wrapped in sindons 20 of linen. The Book 
contained all the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, 
according as you have them; (for we know well what the churches 
with you receive); and the Apocalypse itself, and some other books 
of the New Testament, which were not at that time written, were 
nevertheless in the Book. And for the Letter, it was in these words: 


"'I Bartholomew, a servant of the Highest, and Apostle of Jesus Christ, 
was warned by an angel that appeareth to me, in a vision of glory, that 
I should commit this ark to the floods of the sea. Therefore I do testify 
and declare unto that people where God shall ordain this ark to come 
to land, that in the same day is come unto them salvation and peace and 
good-will, from the Father, and from the Lord Jesus.' 


"There was also in both these writings, as well the Book, as 
the Letter, wrought a great miracle, conform 21 to that of the Apos- 
tles, in the original Gift of Tongues. For there being at that time in 
this land Hebrews, Persians, and Indians, besides the natives, every 
20 Pieces. 21 Similar. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 155 
one read upon the Book, and Letter, as if they had been written in his 
own language. And thus was this land saved from infidelity (as 
the remainder of the old world was from water) by an ark, through 
the apostolical and miraculous evangelism of Saint Bartholomew." 
And here he paused, and a messenger came, and called him from 
us. So this was all that passed in that conference. 
The next day, the same governor came again to us, immediately 
after dinner, and excused himself, saying: "That the day before he 
was called from us, somewhat abruptly, but now he would make us 
amends, and spend time with us if we held his company and con- 
ference agreeable." We answered, "That we held it so agreeable 
and pleasing to us, as we forgot both dangers past and fears to come, 
for the time we hear him speak; and that we thought an hour spent 
with him, was worth years of our former life." He bowed himself a 
little to us, and after we were set again, he said; "Well, the ques- 
tions are on your part." 
One of our number said, after a little pause; that there was a 
matter, we were no less desirous to know, than fearful to ask, lest 
we might presume too far. But encouraged by his rare humanity 
towards us, (that could scarce think ourselves strangers, being his 
vowed and professed servants,) we would take the hardiness to 
propound it: humbly beseeching him, if he thought it not fit to be 
answered, that he would pardon it, though he rejected it. We said; 
"We well observed those his words, which he formerly spake, that 
this happy island, where we now stood, was known to few, and yet 
knew most of the nations of the world; which we found to be true, 
considering they had the languages of Europe, and knew much of 
our state and business; and yet we in Europe, (notwithstanding all 
the remote discoveries and navigations of this last age), never heard 
of .the least inkling or glimpse of this island. This we found won- 
derful strange; for that all nations have inter-knowledge one of 
another, either by voyage into foreign parts, or by strangers that 
come to them: and though the traveller into a foreign country, doth 
commonly know more by the eye, than he that stayeth at home can 
by relation of the traveller; yet both ways suffice to make a mutual 
knowledge, in some degree, on both parts. But for this island, we 
never heard tell of any ship of theirs that had been seen to arrive 



I S6 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
upon any shore of Europe; nor of either the East or West Indies; 
nor yet of any ship of any other part of the world, that had made 
return from them. And yet the marvel rested not in this. For the 
situation of it (as his lordship said) in the secret conclave 23 of such 
a vast sea might cause it. But then, that they should have knowledge 
of the languages, books, affairs, of those that lie such a distance 
from them, it was a thing we could not tell what to make of; for 
that it seemed to us a condition 24 and propri ety 25 of divine powers 
and beings, to be hidden and unseen to others, and yet to have 
others open and as in a light to them." 
At this speech the Governor gave a gracious smile, and said; 
"That we did well to ask pardon for this question we now asked: 
for that it imported, as if we thought this land, a land of magicians, 
that sent forth spirits of the air into all parts, to bring them news 
and intelligence of other countries." It was answered by us all, in 
all possible humbleness, but yet with a countenance taking knowl- 
edge, that we knew that he spake it but merrily, "That we were apt 
enough .to think there was somewhat supernatural in this island; 
but yet rather as angelical than magical. But to let his lordship know 
truly what it was that made us tender and doubtful to ask this 
question, it was not any such conceit,26 but because we remembered, 
he had given a touch 27 in his former speech, that this land had laws 
of secrecy touching strangers." To this he said; "Y ou remember it 
aright and therefore in that I shall say to you, I must reserve some 
particulars, which it is not lawful for me to reveal; but there will 
be enough left, to give you satisfaction. 
"You shall understand (that which perhaps you will scarce think 
credible) that about three thousand years ago, or somewhat more, 
the navigation of the world, (especially for remote voyages,) was 
greater than at this day. Do not think with yourselves, that I know 
not how much it is increased with you, within these six-score years: 
I know it well: and yet I say greater then than now; whether it 
was, that the example of the ark, that saved the remnant of men 
from the universal deluge, gave men confidence to adventure upon 
the waters; or what it was; but such is the truth. The Phænicians, 
and especially the Tyrians, had great fleets. So had the Cartha- 
23 Private room. 24 Property. 25 Quality. 26 Idea. 27 Hint. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 157 
ginians their colony, which is yet further west. Toward the east 
the shipping of Egypt and of Palestina was likewise great. China 
also, and the great Atlantis, (that you call America,) which have 
now but junks and canoes, abounded then in tall ships. This island, 
(as appeareth by faithful registers of those times,) had then fifteen 
hundred strong ships, of great content. Of all this, there is with 
you sparing memory, or none; but we have large knowledge 
thereof. 
"At that time, this land was known and frequented by the ships 
and vessels of all the nations before named. And (as it cometh to 
pass) they had many times men of other countries, that were no 
sailors, that came with them; as Persians, Chaldeans, Arabians; so 
as almost all nations of might and fame resorted hither; of whom 
we have some stirps,28 and little tribes with us at this day. And for 
our own ships, they went sundry voyages, as well to your straits, 
which you call the Pillars of Hercules, as to other parts in the At- 
lantic and Mediterrane Seas; as to Paguin, (which is the same with 
Cambaline,29) and Quinzy, upon the Oriental Seas, as far as to the 
borders of the East Tartary. 
"At the same time, and an age after, or more, the inhabitants of 
the great Atlantis did flourish. For though the narration and de- 
scription, which is made by a great man 30 with you; that the de- 
scendants of Neptune planted 31 there; and of the magnificent temple, 
palace, city, and hill; and the manifold streams of goodly navigable 
rivers, (which as so many chains environed the same site and tem- 
pie); and the several degrees of ascent, whereby men did climb 
up to the same, as if it had been a scala cæli,32 be all poetical and 
fabulous: yet so much is true, that the said country of Atlantis, as 
well that of Peru, then called Coya, as that of Mexico, then named 
Tyrambel, were mighty and proud kingdoms in arms, shipping and 
riches: so mighty, as at one time (or at least within the space of ten 
years) they both made two great expeditions; they of Tyrambel 
through the Atlantic to the Mediterrane Sea; and they of Coya 
through the South Sea upon this our island: and for the former of 
these, which was into Europe, the same author amongst you (as it 
28 Families. 29 Cambalu, Pekin. 30 Plato, in the "Critias." 31 Settled. 
32 Ladder to heaven. 



158 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
seemeth) had some relation from the Egyptian priest whom he 
cited. For assuredly such a thing there was. But whether it were 
the ancient Athenians that had the glory of the repulse and re- 
sistance of those forces, I can say nothing: but certain it is, there 
never came back either ship or man from that voyage. Neither 
had the other voyage of those of Coya upon us had better fortune, 
if they had not met with enemies of greater clemency. For the 
king of this island, (by name Altabin,) a wise man and a great 
warrior, knowing well both his own strength and that of his ene- 
mies, handled the matter so, as he cut off their land-forces from 
their ships; and entoiled 33 both their navy and their camp with a 
greater power than theirs, both by sea and land: and compelled 
them to render themselves without striking stroke: and after they 
were at his mercy, contenting himself only with their oath that 
they should no more bear arms against him, dismissed them all in 
safety. 
"But the divine revenge overtook not long after those proud en- 
terprises. For within less than the space of one hundred years, the 
great Atlantis was utterly lost and destroyed: not by a great earth- 
quake, as your man saith; (for that whole tract is little subject to 
earthquakes;) but by a particular 34 deluge or inundation; those 
countries having, at this day, far greater rivers and far higher moun- 
tains to pour down waters, than any part of the old world. But it 
is true that the same inundation was not deep; not past forty foot, 
in most places, from the ground; so that although it destroyed man 
and beast generally, yet some few wild inhabitants of the wood 
escaped. Birds also were saved by flying to the high trees and woods. 
F or as for men, although they had buildings in many places, higher 
than the depth of the water, yet that inundation, though it were 
shallow, had a long continuance; whereby they of the vale that 
were not drowned, perished for want of food and other things neces- 
sary. 
"So as marvel you not at the thin population of America, nor at 
the rudeness and ignorance of the people; for you must account 
your inhabitants of America as a young people; younger a thousand 
years, at the least, than the rest of the world: for that there was so 
33 Ensnared. 34 Partial. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 159 
much time between the universal flood and their particular inun- 
dation. For the poor remnant of human seed, which remained in 
their mountains, peopled the country again slowly, by little and lit- 
tle; and being simple and savage people, (not like Noah and his 
sons, which was the chief family of the earth,) they were not able 
to leave letters, arts, and civility35 to their posterity; and having like- 
wise in their mountainous habitations been used (in respect of the 
extreme cold of those regions) to clothe themselves with the skins 
of tigers, bears, and great hairy goats, that they have io those parts; 
when after they came down into the valley, and found the intoler- 
able heats which are there, and knew no means of lighter apparel, 
they were forced to begin the custom of going naked, which con- 
tinueth at this day. Only they take great pride and delight in the 
feathers of birds; and this also they took from those their ancestors 
of the mountains, who were invited unto it by the infinite flights of 
birds that came up to the high grounds, while the waters stood 
below. So you see, by this main accident of time, we lost our traffic 
with the Americans, with whom of all others, in regard they lay 
nearest to us, we had most commerce. 
"As for the other parts of the world, it is most manifest that in 
the ages following (whether it were in respect of wars, or by a 
natural revolution of time,) navigation did every where greatly 
decay; and specially far voyages (the rather by the use of galleys, 
and such vessels as could hardly brook the ocean,) were altogether 
left and omitted. So then, that part of intercourse which could be 
from other nations to sail to us, you see how it hath long since 
ceased; except it were by some rare accident, as this of yours. But 
now of the cessation of that other part of intercourse, which might 
be by our sailing to other nations, I must yield you some other 
cause. For I cannot say (if I shall say truly,) but our shipping, for 
number, strength, mariners, pilots, and all things that appertain to 
navigation, is as great as ever; and therefore why we should sit at 
home, I shall now give you an account by itself: and it will draw 
nearer to give you satisfaction to your principal question. 
"There reigned in this land, about nineteen hundred years ago, a 
king, whose memory of all others we most adore; not superstitiously, 
35 Civilization. 



160 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


but as a divine instrument, though a mortal man; his name was 
Solamona: and we esteem him as the lawgiver of our nation. This 
king had a large heart, inscrutable for good; and was wholly bent 
to make his kingdom and people happy. He therefore, taking into 
consideration how sufficient and substantive 36 this land was to main- 
tain itself without any aid (at all) of the foreigner; being five thou- 
sand six hundred miles in circuit, and of rare fertility of soil in the 
greatest part thereof; and finding also the shipping of this country 
might be plentifully set on work, both by fishing and by transporta- 
tions from port to port, and likewise by sailing unto some small 
islands that are not far from us, and are under the crown and laws 
of this state; and recalling into his memory the happy and flour- 
ishing estate wherein this land then was; so as it might be a thou- 
sand ways altered to the worse, but scarce anyone way to the bet- 
ter; though nothing wanted to his noble and heroical intentions, 
but only (as far as human foresight might reach) to give perpe- 
tuity to that which was in his time so happily established. Therefore 
amongst his other fundamental laws of this kingdom, he did ordain 
the interdicts and prohibitions which we have touching entrance of 
strangers; which at that time (though it was after the calamity of 
America) was frequent; doubtin
7 novelties, and commixture of 
manners. It is true, the like law against the admission of strangers 
without licence is an ancient law in the kingdom of China, and yet 
continued in use. But there it is a poor thing; and hath made them 
a curious, ignorant, fearful, foolish nation. But our lawgiver made 
his law of another temper. For first, he hath preserved all points of 
humanity, in taking order and making provision for the relief of 
strangers distressed; whereof you have tasted." 
At which speech (as reason was) we all rose up and bowed our- 
selves. He went on. 
"That king also, still desiring to join humanity and policy to- 
gether; and thinking it against humanity, to detain strangers here 
against their wills, and against policy that they should return and 
discover their knowledge of this estate, he took this course: he did 
ordain that of the strangers that should be permitted to land, as 
many (at all times) might depart as would; but as many as would 
36 Self-sufficing. 37 Fearing. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 16 I 
stay should have very good conditions and means to live from the 
state. Wherein he saw so far, that now in so many ages since the 
prohibition, we have memory not of one ship that ever returned, 
and but of thirteen persons only, at several times, that chose to re- 
turn in our bottoms. What those few that returned may have re- 
ported abroad I know not. But you must think, whatsoever they 
have said could be taken where they came but for a dream. Now for 
our travelling from hence into parts abroad, our Lawgiver thought 
fit altogether to restrain it. So is it not in China. For the Chinese 
sail where they will or can; which sheweth that their law of keeping 
out strangers is a law of pusillanimity and fear. But this restraint 
of ours hath one only exception, which is admirable; preserving the 
good which cometh by communicating with strangers, and avoiding 
the hurt; and I will now open it to you. And here I shall seem a 
little to digress, but you will by and by find it pertinent. 
"Ye shall understand (my dear friends) that amongst the excellent 
acts of that king, one above all hath the pre-eminence. It was the 
erection and institution of an Order or Society, which we call Salo- 
mon's House; the noblest foundation (as we think) that ever was 
upon the earth; and the Ian thorn of this kingdom. It is dedicated 
to the study of the works and creatures of God. Some think it bear- 
eth the founder's name a little corrupted, as if it should be Sola- 
mona's House. But the records write it as it is spoken. So as I take 
it to be denominate of38 the king of the Hebrews, which is famous 
with you, and no stranger to us. For we have some parts of his 
works, which with you are lost; namely, that natural history, which 
he wrote, of all plants, from the cedar of Libanus to the moss that 
groweth out of the wall, and of all things that have life and motion. 
This maketh me think that our king, finding himself to sym- 
bolize 39 in many things with that king of the Hebrews (which lived 
many years before him), honored him with the title of this founda- 
tion. And I am rather induced to be of this opinion, for that I find in 
ancient records this Order or Society is sometimes called Salomon's 
House, and sometimes the College of the Six Days Works; whereby 
I am satisfied that our excellent king had learned from the Hebrews 
that God had created the world and all that therein is within six 
38 Named after. 39 Agree. 



162 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
days: and therefore he instituting that House for the finding out of 
the true nature of all things, (whereby God might have the more 
glory in the workmanship of them, and men the more fruit in the 
use of them), did give it also that second name. 
"But now to come to our present purpose. When the king had for- 
bidden to all his people navigation into any part that was not under 
his crown, he made nevertheless this ordinance; that every twelve 
years there should be set forth, out of this kingdom two ships, ap- 
pointed to several voyages; That in either of these ships there should 
be a mission of three of the Fellows or Brethren of Salomon's House; 
whose errand was only to give us knowledge of the affairs and state 
of those countries to which they were designed, and especially of 
the sciences, arts, manufactures, and inventions of all the world; 
and withal to bring unto us books, instruments, and patterns in every 
kind: That the ships, after they had landed the brethren, should re- 
turn; and that the brethren should stay abroad till the new mis- 
sion. These ships are not otherwise fraught, than with store of 
victuals, and good quantity of treasure to remain with the brethren, 
for the buying of such things and rewarding of such persons as they 
should think fit. Now for me to tell you how the vulgar sort of 
mariners are contained4.0 from being discovered at land; and how 
they that must be put on shore for any time, color themselves under 
the names of other nations; and to what places these voyages have 
been designed; and what places of rendezvous are appointed for the 
new missions; and the like circumstances of the practique; I may 
not do it: neither is it much to your desire. But thus you see we 
maintain a trade not for gold, silver, or jewels; nor for silks; nor 
for spices; nor any other commodity of matter; but only for God's 
first creature, which was Light: to have light (I say) of the growth 
of u all parts of the world." 
And when he had said this, he was silent; and so were we all. 
F or indeed we were all astonished to hear so strange things so 
probably told. And he, perceiving that we were willing to say 
somewhat but had it not ready in great courtesy took us off, and 
descended to ask us questions of our voyage and fortunes and in the 
end concluded, that we might do well to think with ourselves what 
40 Prevented. 41 Produced in. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 163 
time of stay we would demand of the state; and bade us not to 
scant ourselves; for he would procure such time as we desired. 
Whereupon we all rose up, and presented ourselves 42 to kiss the 
skirt of his tippet; but he would not suffer us; and so took his leave. 
But when it came once amongst our people that the state used to 
offer conditions to strangers that would stay, we had work enough 
to get any of our men to look to our ship; and to keep them 
from going presently to the governor to crave conditions. But with 
much ado we refrained them, till we might agree what course 
to take. 
We took ourselves now for free men, seeing there was no danger 
of our utter perdition; and lived most joyfully, going abroad and 
seeing what was to be seen in the city and places adjacent within 
our tedder; and obtaining acquaintance with many of the city, not 
of the meanest quality; at whose hands we found such humanity, 
and such a freedom and desire to take strangers as it were into their 
bosom, as was enough to make us forget all that was dear to us 
in our own countries: and continually we met with many things 
right worthy of observation and relation: as indeed, if there be a 
mirror in the world worthy to hold men's eyes, it is that country. 
One day there were two of our company bidden to a Feast of 
the Family, as they call it. A most natural, pious, and reverend 
custom it is, shewing that nation to be compounded of all good- 
ness. This is the manner if it. It is granted to any man that shall 
live to see thirty persons descended of his body alive together, and 
all above three years old, to make this feast which is done at the 
cost of the state. The Father of the Family, whom they call the 
Tirsan l two days before the feast, taketh to him three of such 
friends as he liketh to choose; and is assisted 43 also by the governor 
of the city or place where the feast is celebrated; and all the persons 
of the family, of both sexes, are summoned to attend him. These 
two days the Tirsan sitteth in consultation concerning the good 
estate of the family. There, if there be any discord or suits be- 
tween any of the family, they are compounded and appeased. There, 
if any of the family be distressed or decayed, order is taken for their 
relief and competent means to live. There, if any be subject to vice, 
42 Offered. 43 Attended. 



16 4 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


or take ill courses, they are reproved and censured. So likewise 
direction is given touching marriages, and the courses of life, which 
any of them should take, with divers other the like orders and ad- 
vices. The governor assisteth, to the end to put in execution by his 
public authority the decrees and orders of the Tirsan, if they should 
be disobeyed; though that seldom needeth; such reverence and 
obedience they give to the order of nature. The Tirsan doth also 
then ever choose one man from among his sons, to live in house 
with him; who is called ever after the Son of the Vine. The reason 
will hereafter appear. 
On the feast day, the father or Tirsan cometh forth after divine 
service into a large room where the feast is celebrated; which room 
hath an half-pace 44 at the upper end. Against the wall, in the mid- 
dle of the half-pace, is a chair placed for him, with a table and car- 
pet before it. Over the chair is a state,45 made round or oval, and it 
is of ivy; an ivy somewhat whiter than ours, like the leaf of a silver 
asp,46 but more shining; for it is green all winter. And the state 
is curiously wrought with silver and silk of divers colors, broiding 47 
or binding in the ivy; and is ever of the work of some of the daugh- 
ters of the family; and veiled over at the top with a fine net of 
silk and silver. But the substance of it is true ivy; whereof, after it 
is taken down, the friends of the family are desirous to have some 
leaf or sprig to keep. 
The Tirsan cometh forth with all his generation or linage, the 
males before him, and the females following him; and if there be 
a mother from whose body the whole linage is descended, there is 
a traverse 48 placed in a loft above on the right hand of the chair, 
with a pri vy 49 door, and a carved window of glass, leaded with 
gold and blue; where she sitteth, but is not seen. When the Tirsan 
is come forth, he sitteth down in the chair; and all the linage place 
themselves against the wall, both at his back and upon the return SO 
of the half-pace, in order of their years without difference of sex; 
and stand upon their feet. When he is set; the room being always 
full of company, but well kept and without disorder; after some 
pause, there cometh in from the lower end of the room, a taratan 


44 Dais, platform. 45 Canopy. 46 Aspen. 47 Interlacing. 48 Curtain. 
49 Private. 50 Side. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 165 
(which is as much as an herald) and on either side of him two 
young lads; whereof one carrieth a scroll of their shining yellow 
parchment; and the other a cluster of grapes of gold, with a long foot 
or stalk. The herald and children are clothed with mantles of sea
 
water green satin; but the herald's mantle is streamed 51 with gold, 
and hath a train. 
Then the herald with three curtesies, or rather inclinations, com
 
eth up as far as the half-pace; and there first taketh into his hand 
the scroll. This scroll is the king's charter, containing gifts of reve
 
new, and many privileges, exemptions, and points of honour, granted 
to the Father of the Family; and is ever styled and directed, To 
such an one our well beloved friend and creditor: which is a title 
proper only to this case. For they say the king is debtor to no 
man, but for propagation of his subjects. The seal set to the king's 
charter is the king's image, imbossed or moulded in gold; and 
though such charters be expedited 52 of course, and as of right, yet 
they are varied by discretion, according to the number and dignity 
of the family. This charter the herald readeth aloud; and while it 
is read, the father or Tirsan standeth up supported by two of his 
sons, such as he chooseth. Then the herald mounteth the half-pace 
and delivereth the charter into his hand: and with that there is an 
acclamation by all that are present in their language, which is thus 
much: Happy are the people of Bensalem. 
Then the herald taketh into his hand from the other child the 
cluster of grapes, which is of gold, both the stalk and the grapes. 
But the grapes are daintily enamelled; and if the males of the fam
 
ily be the greater number, the grapes are enamelled purple, with a 
little sun set on the top; if the females, then they are enamelled 
into a greenish yellow, with a crescent on the top. The grapes are 
in number as many as there are descendants of the family. This 
golden cluster the herald delivereth also to the Tirsan; who pres- 
ently delivereth it over to that son that he had formerly chosen to 
be in house with him: who beareth it before his father as an ensign 
of honour when he goeth in public, ever after; and is thereupon 
called the Son of the Vine. 
After the ceremony endeth the father or Tirsan retireth; and 
51 Watered. 52 Issued. 



166 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


after some time cometh forth again to dinner, where he sitteth alone 
under the state, as before; and none of his descendants sit with 
him, of what degree or dignity soever, except he hap to be of Salo- 
mon's House. He is served only by his own children, such as are 
male; who perform unto him all service of the table upon the knee; 
and the women only stand about him, leaning against the wall. The 
room below the half-pace hath tables on the sides for the guests that 
are bidden; who are served with great and comely order; and 
towards the end of dinner (which in the greatest feasts with them 
lasteth never above an hour and an half) there is an hymn sung, va- 
ried according to the invention of him that composeth it (for they 
have excellent posy) but the subject of it is (always) the praises of 
Adam and Noah and Abraham; whereof the former two peopled 
the world, and the last was the Father of the Faithful: concluding 
ever with a thanksgiving for the nativity of our Saviour, in whose 
birth the births of all are only blessed. 
Dinner being done, the Tirsan retireth again; and having with- 
drawn himself alone into a place, where he makes some private 
prayers, he cometh forth the third time, to give the blessing with all 
his descendants, who stand about him as at the first. Then he call- 
eth them forth by one and by one, by name, as he plea seth, though 
seldom the order of age be inverted. The person that is called (the 
table being before removed) kneeleth down before the chair, and 
the father layeth his hand upon his head, or her head, and giveth the 
blessing in these words: Son of Bensalem, (or daughter of Bensa- 
lem,) thy father saith it: the man by whom thou hast breath and 
life speaketh the word: the blessing of the everlasting Father, the 
Prince of Peace, and the Holy Dove, be upon thee, and make the 
days of thy pilgrimage good and many. This he saith to every 
of them; and that done, if there be any of his sons of eminent merit 
and virtue, (so they be not above two,) he calleth for them again; 
and saith, laying his arm over their shoulders, they standing; Sons, 
it is well ye are born, give God the praise, and persevere to the end. 
And withall delivereth to either of them a jewel, made in the figure 53 
of an ear of wheat, which they ever after wear in the front of their 
turban or hat. This done, they fall to music and dances, and other 
53 Shape. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 167 
recreations, after their manner, for the rest of the day. This is the 
full order of that feast. 
By that time six or seven days were spent, I was fallen into 
straight acquaintance with a merchant of that city, whose name was 
Joabin. He was a Jew and circumcised: for they have some few 
sti rps 54 of Jews yet remaining among them, whom they leave to 
their own religion. Which they may the better do, because they are 
of a far differing disposition from the Jews in other parts. For 
whereas they hate the name of Christ; and have a secret inbred 
rancour against the people among whom they live: these (contrari- 
wise) give unto our Saviour many high attributes, and love the 
nation of Bensalem extremely. Surely this man of whom I speak 
would ever acknowledge that Christ was born of a virgin and that 
he was more than a man; and he would tell how God made him 
ruler of the seraphims which guard his throne; and they call him 
also the Mi1ken Way, and the Eliah of the Messiah; and many other 
high names; which though they be inferior to his divine majesty, 
yet they are far from the language of other Jews. 
And for the country of Bensalem, this man would make no end 
of commending it; being desirous, by tradition among the Jews 
there, to have it believed that the people thereof were of the genera- 
tions of Abraham, by another son, whom they call N achoran; and 
that Moses by a secret Cabala ordained the Laws of Bensalem 
which they now use; and that when the Messiah should come, and 
sit in his throne at Hierusalem, the king of Bensalem should sit at 
his feet, whereas other kings should keep a great distance. But yet 
setting aside these Jewish dreams, the man was a wise man, and 
learned, and of great policy, and excellently seen in the laws and 
customs of that nation. 
Amongst other discourses, one day I told him I was much affected 
with the relation I had, from some of the company, of their custom, 
in holding the Feast of the Family; for that (methought) I had 
never heard of a solemnity wherein nature did so much preside. 
And because propagation of families proceedeth from the nuptial 
copulation, I desired to know of him what laws and customs they 
had concerning marriage; and whether they kept marriage well 
54 Families, stocks. 



168 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


and whether they were tied to one wife; for that where population 
is so much affected,55 and such as with them it seemed to be, there 
is commonly permission of plurality of wives. 
To this he said, "You have reason for to commend that excellent 
institution of the Feast of the Family. And indeed we have ex- 
perience that those families that are partakers of the blessing of that 
feast do flourish and prosper ever after in an extraordinary manner. 
But hear me now, and I will tell you what I know. You shall under- 
stand that there is not under the heavens so chaste a nation as this 
of Bensalem; nor so free from all pollution or foulness. It is the 
virgin of the world. I remember I have read in one of your Euro- 
pean books, of an holy hermit amongst you that desired to see the 
Spirit of Fornication; and there appeared to him a little foul ugly 
Æthiop. But if he had desired to see the Spirit of Chastity of Ben- 
salem, it would have appeared to him in the likeness of a fair beauti- 
ful Cherubin, For there is nothing amongst mortal men more fair 
and admirable, than the chaste minds of this people. Know there- 
fore, that with them there are no stews, no dissolute houses, no 
courtesans, nor anything of that kind. Nay they wonder (with de- 
testation) at you in Europe, which permit such things. They say 
ye have put marriage out of office: for marriage is ordained a rem- 
edy for unlawful concupiscence; and natural concupiscence seemeth 
as a spur to marriage. But when men have at hand a remedy more 
agreeable to their corrupt will, marriage is almost expulsed. And 
therefore there are with you seen infinite men that marry not, but 
chuse rather a libertine and impure single life, than to be yoked 
in marriage; and many that do marry, marry late, when the prime 
and strength of their years is past. And when they do marry, what 
is marriage to them but a very bargain; wherein is sought alliance, 
or portion, or reputation, with some desire (almost indifferent) of 
issue; and not the faithful nuptial union of man and wife, that was 
first instituted. Neither is it possible that those that have cast away 
so basely so much of their strength, should greatly esteem children, 
(being of the same matter,) as chaste men do. So likewise during 
marriage, is the case much amended, as it ought to be if those things 
were tolerated only for necessity? No, but they remain still as a 
55 Desired. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 169 
very affront to marriage. The haunting of those dissolute places, or 
resort to courtesans, are no more punished in married men than in 
bachelors. And the depraved custom of change, and the delight in 
meretricious embracements, (where sin is turned into art,) maketh 
marriage a dull thing, and a kind of imposition or tax. They hear 
you defend these things, as done to avoid greater evils; as advou- 
tries,56 deflowering of virgins, unnatural lust, and the like. But 
they say this is a preposterous wisdom; and they call it Lot's offer, 
who to save his guests from abusing, offered his daughters: nay 
they say farther that there is little gained in this; for that the same 
vices and appetites do still remain and abound; unlawful lust being 
like a furnace, that if you stop the flames altogether, it will quench; 
but if you give it any vent, it will rage. As for masculine love, they 
have no touch of it; and yet there are not so faithful and inviolate 
friendships in the world again as are there; and to speak generally, 
(as I said before,) I have not read of any such chastity, in any 
people as theirs. And their usual saying is, That whosoever is un- 
chaste cannot reverence himself; and they say, That the reverence 
of a man's self, is, next religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices." 
And when he had said this, the good Jew paused a little; where.. 
upon I, far more willing to hear him speak on than to speak myself, 
yet thinking it decent that upon his pause of speech I should not be 
altogether silent, said only this; "That I would say to him, as the 
widow of Sarepta said to Elias; that he was come to bring to mem- 
ory our sins; and that I confess the righteousness of Bensalem was 
greater than the righteousness of Europe." At which speech he 
bowed his head, and went on in this manner: 
"They have also many wise and excellent laws touching marriage. 
They allow no polygamy. They have ordained that none do inter- 
marry or contract, until a month be past from their first interview. 
Marriage without consent of parents they do not make void, but 
they mulct 57 it in the inheritors: for the children of such marriages 
are not admitted to inherit above a third part of their parents' in- 
heritance. I have read in a book of one of your men,58 of a Feigned 
Commonwealth, where the married couple are permitted, before 
they contract, to see one another naked. This they dislike; for they 
56 Adulteries. 61 Penalize. 58 More's Utopia. 



170 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
think it a scorn to give a refusal after so familiar knowledge: but 
because of many hidden defects in men and women's bodies, they 
have a more civil way; for they have near every town a couple of 
pools, (which they call Adam and Eve's pools,) where it is per- 
mitted to one of the friends of the men, and another of the friends 
of the woman, to see them severally bathe naked." 
And as we were thus in conference, there came one that seemed 
to be a messenger, in a rich huke,59 that spake with the Jew: where- 
upon he turned to me and said; "You will pardon me, for I am 
commanded away in haste." The next morning he came to me 
again, joyful as it seemed, and said; "There is word come to the 
Governor of the city, that one of the Fathers of Salomon's House 
will be here this day seven-night: we have seen none of them this 
dozen years. His coming is in state; but the cause of his coming is 
secret. I will provide you and your fellows of a good standing to 
see his entry." I thanked him, and told him, I was most glad of 
the news. 
The day being come, he made his entry. He was a man of middle 
stature and age, comely of person, and had an aspect as if he pitied 
men. He was clothed in a robe of fine black cloth, with wide sleeves 
and a cape. His under garment was of excellent white linen down 
to the foot, girt with a girdle of the same; and a sindon or tippet of 
the same about his neck. He had gloves, that were curious,60 and set 
with stone; and shoes of peach-coloured velvet. His neck was bare 
to the shoulders. His hat was like a helmet, or Spanish montera;61 
and his locks curled below it decently: they were of colour brown. 
His beard was cut round, and of the same colour with his hair, 
somewhat lighter. He was carried in a rich chariot, without wheels, 
litter-wise; with two horses at either end, richly trapped in blue 
velvet embroidered; and two footmen on each side in the like at- 
tire. The chariot was all of cedar, gilt, and adorned with crystal; 
save that the fore-end had panels of sapphires, set in borders of 
gold; and the hinder-end the like of emeralds of the Peru colour. 
There was also a sun of gold, radiant, upon the top, in the midst; 
and on the top before, a small cherub of gold, with wings dis- 


59 A cape with a hood. 60 Of elaborate design. 61 A cap 
with a round crown and flaps. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 171 
played. 52 The chariot was covered with cloth of gold tissued upon 
blue. He had before him fifty attendants, young men all, in white 
satin loose coats to the mid leg; and stockings of white silk; and 
shoes of blue velvet; and hats of blue velvet; with fine plumes of 
diverse colours, set round like hat-bands. Next before the chariot, 
went two men, bare-headed, in linen garments down the foot, 
girt, and shoes of blue velvet; who carried, the one a crosier, the 
other a pastoral staff like a sheep-hook; neither of them of metal, 
but the crosier of balm-wood,63 the pastoral staff of cedar. Horse- 
men he had none, neither before nor behind his chariot: as it 
seemeth, to avoid all tumult and trouble. Behind his chariot went 
all the officers and principals of the companies of the city. He sat 
alone, upon cushions of a kind of excellent plush, blue; and under 
his foot curious carpets of silk of diverse colours, like the Persian, 
but far finer. He held up his bare hand as he went, as blessing 
the people, but in silence. The street was wonderfully well kept: 
so that there was never any army had their men stand in better 
battle-array than the people stood. The windows likewise were 
not crowded, but everyone stood in them as if they had been 
placed. 
When the shew was past, the Jew said to me; "I shall not be able 
to attend you as 1 would, in regard of some charge the city hath 
laid upon me, for the entertaining of this great person." Three days 
after the Jew came to me again, and said; "Ye are happy men; for 
the Father of Salomon's House taketh knowledge of your being 
here, and commanded me to tell you that he will admit all your 
company to his presence, and have private conference with one of 
you, that ye shall choose: and for this hath appointed the next day 
after to-morrow. And because he meaneth to give you his blessing, 
he hath appointed it in the forenoon. 
We came at our day and hour, and I was chosen by my fellows 
for the private access. We found him in a fair chamber, richly 
hanged, and carpeted under foot, without any degrees 64 to the state. 65 
He was set upon a low Throne richly adorned, and a rich cloth of 
state 66 over his head, of blue satin embroidered. He was alone, save 
that he had two pages of honour, on either hand one, finely attired 
62 Spread. 63 Balsam. 64 Steps. 65 Throne. 66 Canopy. 



172 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
in white. His undergarments were the like that we saw him wear in 
the chariot; but instead of his gown, he had on him a manùe with 
a cape, of the same fine black, fastened about him. When we came 
in, as we were taught, we bowed low at our first entrance; and 
when we were come near his chair, he stood up, holding forth his 
hand ungloved, and in posture of blessing; and we everyone of us 
stooped down, and kissed the hem of his tippet. That done, the rest 
departed, and I remained. Then he warned 67 the pages forth of the 
room, and caused me to sit down beside him, and spake to me thus 
in the Spanish tongue. 
"God bless thee, my son; I will give thee the greatest jewel I have. 
F or I will impart unto thee, for the love of God and men, a relation 
of the true state of Salomon's House. Son, to make you know the 
true state of Salomon's House, I will keep this order. First, I will 
set forth unto you the end of our foundation. Secondly, the prepara- 
tions and instruments we have for our works. Thirdly, the several 
employments and functions whereto our fellows are assigned. And 
fourthly, the ordinances and rites which we observe. 
"The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret 
motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human 
empire, to the effecting of all things possible. 
"The Preparations and Instruments are these. We have large and 
deep caves of several depths: the deepest are sunk six hundred fath- 
om: and some of them are digged and made under great hills and 
mountains: so that if you reckon together the depth of the hill and 
the depth of the cave, they are (some of them) above three miles 
deep. For we find, that the depth of a hill, and the depth of a cave 
from the flat, is the same thing; both remote alike, from the sun 
and heaven's beams, and from the open air. These caves we call the 
Lower Region; and we use them for all coagulations, indurations, 
refrigerations, and conservations 68 of bodies. We use them likewise 
for the imitation of natural mines; and the producing also of new 
artificial metals, by compositions and materials which we use, and 
lay there for many years. We use them also sometimes, (which may 
seem strange,) for curing of some diseases, and for prolongation of 
life in some hermits that choose to live there, well accommodated 
67 Ordered. 68 Experiments in thickening, hardening, freezing, and preserving. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 173 
of all things necessary, and indeed live very long; by whom also we 
learn many things. 
"We have burials in several earths, where we put diverse cements, 
as the Chineses do their porcella in. But we have them in greater 
variety, and some of them more fine. We have also great variety 
of composts,69 and soils, for the making of the earth fruitful. 
"We have high towers; the highest about half a mile in height; 
and some of them likewise set upon high mountains; so that the 
vantage of the hill with the tower is in the highest of them three 
miles at least. And these places we call the Upper Region; account
 
ing the air between the high places and the low, as a Middle Region. 
We use these towers, according to their several heights, and situa
 
tions, for insolation/ o refrigeration, conservation; and for the view of 
divers meteors; as winds, rain, snow, hail; and some of the fiery 
meteors also. And upon them, in some places, are dwellings of her- 
mits, whom we visit sometimes, and instruct what to observe. 
"We have great lakes, both salt, and fresh; whereof we have use 
for the fish and fowl. We use them also for burials of some natural 
bodies: for we find a difference in things buried in earth or in air 
below the earth, and things buried in water. We have also pools, 
of which some do strain fresh water out of salt; and others by art do 
turn fresh water into salt. We have also some rocks in the midst of 
the sea, and some bays upon the shore for some works, wherein is 
required the air and vapor of the sea. We have likewise violent 
streams and cataracts, which serve us for many motions: 71 and like
 
wise engines 71 for multiplying and enforcing of winds, to set also on 
going diverse motions. 
"We have also a number of artificial wells and fountains, made 
in imitation of the natural sources and baths; as tincted upon 72 
vitriol, sulphur, steel, brass, lead, nitre, and other minerals. And 
again we have little wells for infusions of many things, where the 
waters take the virtue quicker and better, than in vessels or basins. 
And amongst them we have a water which we call Water of Para- 
dise, being, by that we do to it made very sovereign for health, and 
prolongation of life. 


69 Manures. 10 Exposing to tbe action of the 5un. 11 Machines. 
72 Tinctured with. 



174 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


"We have also great and spacious houses where we imitate and 
demonstrate meteors; as snow, hail, rain, some artificial rains of 
bodies and not of water, thunders, lightnings; also generations of 
bodies in air; as frogs, flies, and divers others. 
"We have also certain chambers, which we call Chambers of 
Health, where we qualify the air as we think good and proper for 
the cure of divers diseases, and preservation of health. 
"We have also fair and large baths, of several mixtures, for the 
{:ure of diseases, and the restoring of man's body from arefaction: 73 
and others for the confirming of it in strength of sin ewes, vital parts, 
and the very juice and substance of the body. 
"We have also large and various orchards and gardens; wherein 
we do not so much respect beauty, as variety of ground and soil, 
proper for divers trees and herbs: and some very spacious, where 
trees and berries are set whereof we make divers kinds of drinks, 
besides the vineyards. In these we practise likewise all conclusions 74 
of grafting, and inoculating 75 as well of wild-trees as fruit-trees, 
which produceth many effects. And we make (by art) in the same 
orchards and gardens, trees and flowers to come earlier or later than 
their seasons; and to come up and bear more speedily than by their 
natural course they do. We make them also by art greater much 
than their nature; and their fruit greater and sweeter and of differ- 
ing taste, smell, colour, and figure, from their nature. And many of 
them we so order, as they become of medicinal use. 
"We have also means to make divers plants rise by mixtures of 
earths without seeds; and likewise to make divers new plants, dif- 
fering from the vulgar; and to make one tree or plant turn into 
another. 
"We have also parks and enclosures of all sorts of beasts and 
birds which we use not only for view or rareness, but likewise for 
dissections and trials; that thereby we may take light what may be 
wrought upon the body of man. Wherein we find many strange 
effects; as continuing life in them, though divers parts, which you 
account vital, be perished and taken forth; resuscitating of some that 
seem dead in appearance; and the like. We try also all poisons 
and other medicines upon them, as well of chirurgery/6 as physic. 
73 Drying up. 74 Experiments. 75 Budding. 76 Surgery. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS IíS 
By art likewise, we make them greater or taller than their kind 77 is; 
and contrariwise dwarf them, and stay their growth: we make them 
more fruitful and bearing than their kind is; and contrariwise bar':' 
ren and not generative. Also we make them differ in colour, shape, 
activity, many ways. We find means to make commixtures and 
copulations of different kinds; which have produced many new 
kinds, and them not barren, as the general opinion is. We make 
a number of kinds of serpents, worms, flies, fishes, of putrefaction; 
whereof some are advanced (in effect) to be perfect creatures, like 
beasts or birds; and have sexes, and do propagate. Neither do we 
this by chance, but we know beforehand, of what matter and com- 
mixture what kind of those creatures will arise. 
"We have also particular pools, where we make trials upon fishes, 
as we have said before of beasts and birds. 

'W e have also places for breed and generation of those kinds of 
worms and flies which are of special use; such as are with you your 
silk-worms and bees. 

'I will not hold you long with recounting of our brew-houses, 
bake-houses, and kitchens, where are made divers drinks, breads, 
and meats, rare and of special effects. Wines we have of grapes; 
and drinks of other juice of fruits, of grains, and of roots; and of 
mixtures with honey, sugar, manna, and fruits dried, and decocted; 78 
Also of the tears or woundings of trees; and of the pulp of canes. 
And these drinks are of several ages, some to the age or last of forty 
years. We have drinks also brewed with several herbs, and roots, 
and spices; yea with several fleshes, and white-meats; whereof some 
of the drinks are such, as they are in effect meat and drink both: 
so that divers, especially in age, do desire to live with them, with 
little or no meat or bread. And above all, we strive to have drink 
of extreme thin parts, to insinuate 79 into the body, and yet without 
an biting, sharpness, or fretting; insomuch as some of them put upon 
the back of your hand will, with a little stay,80 pass through to the 
palm, and yet taste mild to the mouth. We have also waters which 
we ripen in that fashion, as they become nourishing; so that they 
are indeed excellent drink; and many will use no other. Breads 
we have of several grains, roots, and kernels; yea and some of flesh 
77 Species. 78 Boiled down. 79 Creep or wind. 80 Delay. 



176 A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 
and fish dried; with divers kinds of leavenings and seasonings: so 
that some do extremely move appetites; some do nourish so, as 
divers do live of them, without any other meat; who live very long. 
So for meats, we have some of them so beaten and made tender and 
mortified,81 yet without all corrupting, as a weak heat of the stom- 
ach will turn them into good chylus; 82 as well as a strong heat would 
meat otherwise prepared. We have some meats also and breads 
and drinks, which taken by men enable them to fast long after; and 
some other, that used make the very flesh of men's bodies sensibly83 
more hard and tough and their strength far greater than otherwise it 
would be. 
"\Ve have dispensatories, or shops of medicines. Wherein you 
may easily think, if we have such variety of plants and living crea- 
tures more than you have in Europe, (for we know what you have,) 
the simples, drugs, and ingredients of medicines, must likewise be 
in so much the greater variety. We have them likewise of divers 
ages, and long fermentations. And for their preparations, we have 
not only all manner of exquisite distillations and separations, and 
especially by gentle heats and percolations through divers strainers, 
yea and substances; but also exact forms 84 of composition, whereby 
they incorporate almost, as they were natural simples. 
"We have also divers mechanical arts, which you have not; and 
stuffs made by them; as papers, linen, silks, tissues; dainty works of 
feathers of wonderful lustre; excellent dies, and many others; and 
shops likewise, as well for such as are not brought into vulgar use 
amongst us as for those that are. For you must know that of the 
things before recited, many of them are grown into use throughout 
the kingdom; but yet, if they did flow from our invention, we have 
of them also for patterns and principals. 85 
"We have also furnaces of great diversities, and that keep great 
diversity of heats; fierce and quick; strong and constant; soft and 
mild; blown, quiet; dry, moist; and the like. But above all, we 
have heats, in imitation of the Sun's and heavenly bodies' heats, that 
pass divers inequalities, and (as it were) orbs,86 progresses, and 
returns, whereby we produce admirable effects. Besides, we have 
81 Made tender. 82 Chyle. 83 Perceptibly to the touch. 84 Formulas. 
85 Models. 86 Orbits. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 177 
heats of dungs; and of bellies and maws of living creatures, and of 
their bloods and bodies; and of hays and herbs laid up moist; of 
lime unquenched; and such like. Instruments also which generate 
heat only by motion. And farther, places for strong insolations; 87 
and again, places under the earth, which by nature, or art, yield 
heat. These divers heats we use, as the nature of the operation, 
which we intend, req uireth. 

'W e have also perspective-houses,88 where we make demonstra- 
tions of all lights and radiations; and of all colours: and out of 
things uncoloured and transparent, we can represent unto you all 
several colours; not in rain-bows, (as it is in gems, and prisms,) but 
of themselves single. We represent also all multiplications 89 of light, 
which we carry to great distance, and make so sharp as to discern 
small points and lines. Also all colourations of light; all delusions 
and deceits of the sight, in figures, magnitudes, motions, colours: 
all demonstrations of shadows. We find also divers means, yet un- 
known to you, of producing of light originally90 from divers bodies. 
We procure means of seeing objects afar off; as in the heaven and 
remote places; and represent things near as afar off; and things 
afar off as near; making feigned distances. We have also helps for 
the sight, far above spectacles and glasses in use. We have also 
glasses and means to see small and minute bodies perfectly and 
distinctly; as the shapes and colours of small flies and worms, grains 
and flaws in gems, which cannot otherwise be seen, observations in 
urine and blood not otherwise to be seen. We make artificial rain- 
bows, halo's, and circles about light. We represent also all manner 
of reflexions, refractions, and multiplications 89 of visual beams of 
obj ects. 
"We have also precious stones of all kinds, many of them of great 
beauty, and to you unknown; crystals likewise; and glasses of divers 
kinds: and amongst them some of metals vitrificated,91 and other 
materials besides those of which you make glass. Also a number 
of fossils, and imperfect minerals, which you have not. Likewise 
loadstones of prodigious virtue; and other rare stones, both natural 
and artificial. 


87 Exposure to the sun. 88 Places for optical experiments. 89 Intensifications. 
90 Spontaneously. 91 Turned into glass. 



17 8 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


"We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate 
all sounds, and their generation. We have harmonies which you 
have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides 92 of sounds. Divers in- 
struments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than 
any you have, together with bells and rings that are dainty and 
sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise great 
sounds extenuate 93 and sharp; we make divers tremblings and war- 
blings of sounds, which in their original 94 are entire. We represent 
and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes 
of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear do 
further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and arti- 
ficial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing 
it: and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some 
shriller, and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice differing 
in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have 
also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines 
and distances. 
"We have also perfume-houses; wherewith we join also practices of 
taste. We multiply smells, which may seem strange. We imitate 
smells, making all smells to breathe out of other mixtures than 
those that give them. We make divers imitations of taste likewise, 
so that they will deceive any man's taste. And in this house we con- 
tai n 9.'i also a confiture-house; where we make all sweet-meats, dry 
and moist; and divers pleasant wines, milks, broths, and saUets; in 
far greater variety than you have. 
"We have also engine-houses, where are prepared engines and in- 
struments for all sorts of motions. There we imitate and practise to 
make swifter motions than any you have, either out of your muskets 
or any engine that you have: and to make them and multiply them 
more easily, and with small force, by wheels and other means: and 
to make them stronger and more violent than yours are; exceeding 
your greatest cannons and basilisks. 96 We represent also ordnance 
and instruments of war, and engines of all kinds: and likewise new 
mixtures and compositions of gun-powder, wild-fires burning in 
water, and unquenchable. Also fire-works of all variety both for 
pleasure and use. We imitate also flights of birds; we have some 
92 Fine shades. 93 Thin. 94 Origin. 95 Include. 96 A kind of cannon. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 179 
degrees of fIying in the air. We have ships and boats for going 
under water, and brooking 97 of seas; also swimming-girdles and 
supporters. We have divers curious clocks, and other like motions 
of return: and some perpetual motions. We imitate also motions of 
living creatures, by images, of men, beasts, birds, fishes, and ser- 
pents. We have also a great number of other various motions, 
strange for equality, fineness, and subtilty. 
"We have also a mathematical house, where are represented all 
instruments, as well of geometry as astronomy, exquisitely made. 
"We have also houses of deceits of the senses; where we repre- 
sent all manner of feats of juggling, false apparitions, impostures, 
and illusions; and their fallacies. 98 And surely you will easily be- 
lieve that we that have so many things truly natural which induce 
admiration,99 could in a world of particulars deceive the senses, if 
we would disguise those things and labour to make them seem more 
miraculous. But we do hate all impostures, and lies; insomuch as 
we have severely forbidden it to all our fellows, under pain of igno- 
miny and fines, that they do not shew any natural work or thing, 
adorned or swelling; but only pure as it is, and without all affecta- 
tion of strangeness. 
"These are (my son) the riches of Salomon's House. 


"For the several employments and offices of our fellows; we have 
twelve that sail into foreign countries, under the names of other 
nations, (for our own we conceal); who bring us the books, and 
abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we 
call Merchants of Light. 
"We have three that collect the experiments which are in all 
books. These we call Depredators. 1OO 
"We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical 
arts; and also of liberal sciences; and also of practices which are 
not brought into arts. These we call M ystery-men. 101 
"We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves 
think good. These we call Pioners or Miners. 
"We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into 


97 Withstanding. 98 Exposures. 99 Wonder. 100 Pillagers. 
101 Craftsmen. 



180 


A FABLE OF FRANCIS BACON 


titles and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observa- 
tions and axioms out of them. These we call Compilers. 
"We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experi- 
ments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them 
things of use and practise for man's life, and knowledge, as well for 
works as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural divina- 
tions, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of 
bodies. These we call Dowry-men 102 or Benefactors. 
"Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, 
to consider of the former labours and collections, we have three that 
take care, out of them, to direct new experiments, of a higher light, 
more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call Lamps. 
"We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, 
and report them. These we call Inoculators. 
"Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experi- 
ments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms. These we 
call Interpreters of Nature. 
"We have also, as you must think, novices and apprentices, that 
the succession of the former employed men do not fail; besides, a 
great number of servants and attendants, men and women. And 
this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and 
experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which 
not: and take all an oath of secrecy, for the concealing of those which 
we think fit to keep secret: though some of those we do reveal some- 
times to the state and some not. 


"For our ordinances and rites: we have two very long and fair 
galleries: in one of these we place patterns and samples of all man- 
ner of the more rare and excellent inventions: in the other we place 
the statuas of all principal inventors. There we have the statua of 
your Columbus, that discovered the West Indies: also the inventor 
of ships: your monk that was the inventor of ordnance and of 
gunpowder: the inventor of music: the inventor of letters: the inven- 
tor of printing: the inventor of observations of astronomy: the in- 
ventor of works in metal: the inventor of glass: the inventor of silk 
of the worm: the inventor of wine: the inventor of corn and bread: 
102 Endowment men. 



THE NEW ATLANTIS 


181 


the inventor of sugars: and all these, by more certain tradition than 
you have. Then have we divers inventors of our own, of excellent 
works; which since you have not seen, it were too long to make de- 
scriptions of them; and besides, in the right understanding of those 
descriptions you might easily err. For upon every invention of 
value, we erect a statua to the inventor, and give him a liberal and 
honourable reward. These statuas are some of brass; some of mar- 
ble and touch-stone; 103 some of cedar and other special woods gilt 
and adorned; some of iron; some of silver; some of gold. 
"We have certain hymns and services, which we say daily, of 
Lord and thanks to God for his marvellous works: and forms of 
prayers, imploring his aid and blessing for the illumination of our 
labours, and the turning of them into good and holy uses. 
"Lastly, we have circuits or visits of divers principal cities of the 
kingdom; where, as it cometh to pass, we do publish such new 
profitable inventions as we think good. And we do also declare 
natural divinations of diseases, plagues, swarms of hurtful crea- 
tures, scarcity, tempests, earthquakes, great inundations, comets, 
temperature of the year, and divers other things; and we give coun- 
sel thereupon, what the people shall do for the prevention and rem- 
edy of them." 


And when he had said this, he stood up; and I, as I had been 
taught, kneeled down, and he laid his right hand upon my head, 
and said; "God bless thee, my son; and God bless this relation, 
which I have made. I give thee leave to publish it for the good of 
other nations; for we here are in God's bosom, a land unknown." 
And so he left me; having assigned a value of about two thousand 
ducats, for a bounty to me and my fellows. For they give great 
largesses where they come upon all occasions. 


[The rest was not perfected.] 


103 A variety of jasper. 



AREOPAGITICA 


A SPEECH 


FOR THE LIBEATY OF UNLICENSED PRINTING TO nIB 
PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND 


BY 
JOHN MILTON 


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f.L 
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f.vp. EL
 J.LEuop f{!f.pf.LP, f.XwP. 
Kaì Tav{J' Ò xpfJrwp, 
ap.7rpò
 Ëu{J', ò p.
 {Jf}..wP, 
2:L'Y
, TL TOVrW; É<TLJI í.uaí.Tf.pOP 7rÓ
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Euripid. Hicetid. 


This is true Liberty when free born men 
Hat/ing to adt/ise tIle public may speak free, 
Which he who can, and will, desert/'s high praise, 
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace; 
W hat can be juster in a State than this? 
Euripid. Hicetid. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 


THE name of Milton's speech on the freedom of the press was imitated 
from that of the "Logos Areopagiticos" of the Athenian orator Isocrates 
(436-338 B.C.), which was also a speech meant to be read, not heard. 
The oration of Isocrates aimed at re-establishing the old democracy of 
Athens by restoring the Court of the Areopagus, whence the work de- 
rived its title. 
During the ascendency of Laud in the Church of England, his instru- 
ment, the Court of the Star-Chamber, had reenacted, more oppressively 
than ever, some of the restrictions imposed during the reign of Elizabeth 
on the printing of books. These restrictions disappeared with the 
abolition of the Star-Chamber in 1641, but very soon the Presbyterian 
majority in the Long Parliament began to pass orders framed with a 
view to enable them to suppress publications voicing the political and 
religious views of their opponents. Finally the Order of June, 1643, 
reproduced here, roused Milton to protest, and he issued his famous 
plea for unlicensed printing in the following year. As will be seen from 
the speech itself, he did his best to conciliate the Parliament by making 
cordial acknowledgment of its services to the cause of liberty, and he 
sought to persuade them to reverse their action by pointing out its in- 
consistency with these services. But it does not appear that it produced 
any immediate effect. While the Independents under Cromwell had the 
upper hand, the licensing laws were, indeed, very slackly enforced; but 
with the Restoration came the reenactment of most of the provisions of 
the Star-Chamber Decree. After being renewed several times for terms 
of years, they finally were allowed to lapse in 1694, and later attempts 
to renew them were unsuccessful. 
But the importance of Milton's pamphlet is not to be measured by its 
effect on the political situation which was its immediate occasion. In 
his enthusiasm for liberty, the master passion of his life, he rose far above 
the politics of the hour; and the "Areopagitica" holds its supremacy 
among his prose writings by virtue of its appeal to fundamental prin- 
ciples, and its triumphant assertion of the faith that all that truth needs 
to assure its victory over error is a fair field and no favor. 



ORDER 
OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT 
FOR THE REGULATING OF PRINTING, 14 June, 1643 


BEING THE OCCASION OF 
MILTON'S AREOPAGITICA 


WHEREAS divers good Orders have bin lately made by both Houses 
of Parliament, for suppressing the great late abuses and frequent 
disorders in Printing many, false forged, scandalous, seditious, li- 
bellous, and unlicensed Papers, Pamphlets, and Books to the great 
defamation of Religion and government. Which orders (notwith- 
standing the diligence of the Company of Stationers, to put them 
in full execution) have taken little or no effect: By reason the bill 
in preparation, for redresse of the said disorders, hath hitherto bin 
retarded through the present distractions, and very many, aswell 
Stationers and Printers, as others of sundry other professions not 
free of the Stationers Company, have taken upon them to set up 
sundry private Printing Presses in corners, and to print, vend, pub- 
lish and disperse Books, pamphlets and papers, in such multitudes, 
that no industry could be sufficient to discover or bring to pun- 
ishment, all the severall abounding delinquents; And by reason 
that divers of the Stationers Company and others being Delinquents 
(contrary to former orders and the constant custome used among the 
said Company) have taken liberty to Print, Vend, and publish, the 
most profitable vendible Copies of Books, belonging to the Com- 
pany and other Stationers, especially of such Agents as are imployed 
in putting the said Orders in Execution, and that by way of revenge 
for giveing information against them to the Houses for their De- 
linquences in Printing, to the great prejudice of the said Company 
of Stationers and Agents, and to their discouragement in this publik 
service. 
It is therefore Ordered by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, 
That no Order or Declaration of both, or either House of Parlia
 
185 



186 A SPEECH 
ment shall be printed by any, but by order of one or both the said 
Houses: Nor other Book, Pamphlet, paper, nor part of any such 
Book, Pamphlet, or paper, shall from henceforth be printed, bound, 
stitched or put to sale by any person or persons whatsoever, unlesse 
the same be first approved of and licensed under the hands of such 
person or persons as both, or either of the said Houses shall appoint 
for the licensing of the same, and entred in the Register Book of 
the Company of Stationers, according to Ancient custom, and the 
Printer thereof to put his name thereto. And that no person or per- 
sons shall hereafter print, or cause to be reprinted any Book or 
Books, or part of Book, or Books heretofore allowed of and granted 
to the said Company of Stationers for their relief and maintenance 
of their poore, without the licence or consent of the Master, War- 
dens and Assistants of the said Company; Nor any Book or Books 
lawfully licenced and entred in the Register of the said Company for 
any particular member thereof, without the licence and consent of 
the owner or owners thereof. Nor yet import any such Book or 
Books, or part of Book or Books formerly Printed here, from beyond 
the Seas, upon paine of forfeiting the same to the Owner, or Owners 
of the Copies of the said Books, and such further punishment as 
shall be thought fit. 
And the Master and Wardens of the said Company, the Gentle- 
man Usher of the House of Peers, the Sergeant of the Commons 
House and their deputies, together with the persons formerly ap- 
pointed by the Committee of the House of Commons for Examina- 
tions, are hereby Authorized and required, from time to time, to 
make diligent search in all places, where they shall think meete, for 
all unlicensed Printing Presses, and all Presses any way imployed in 
the printing of scandalous or unlicensed Papers, Pamphlets, Books, 
or any Copies of Books belonging to the said Company, or any 
member thereof, without their approbation and consents, and to 
seize and carry away such Printing Presses Letters, together with 
the Nut, Spindle, and other materialls of every such irregular Printer, 
which they find so misimployed, unto the Common Hall of the 
said Company, there to be defaced and made unserviceable accord- 
ing to Ancient Custom; And likewise to make diligent search in all 
suspected Printing-houses, Ware-houses, Shops and other places for 



ORDER OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT 187 
such scandalous and unlicensed Books, papers, Pamphlets, and all 
other Books, not entred, nor signed with the Printers name as afore- 
said, being printed, or reprinted by such as have no lawfull interest 
in them, or any way contrary to this Order, and the same to seize 
and carry away to the said common hall, there to remain till both or 
either House of Parliament shall dispose thereof, And likewise to 
apprehend all Authors, Printers, and other persons whatsoever im- 
ployed in compiling, printing, stitching, binding, publishing and 
dispersing of the said scandalous, unlicensed, and unwarrantable 
papers, books and pamphlets as aforesaid, and all those who shall 
resist the said Parties in searching after them, and to bring them 
afore either of the Houses or the Committee of Examinations, that 
so they may receive such further punishments, as their Offences 
shall demerit, and not to be released untill they have given satis- 
faction to the Parties imployed in their apprehension for their paines 
and charges, and given sufficient caution not to offend in like sort 
for the future. And all Justices of the Peace, Captaines, Constables 
and other officers, are hereby ordered and required to be aiding, and 
assisting to the foresaid persons in the due execution of all, and 
singular the premisses and in the apprehension of all Offenders 
against the same. And in case of opposition to break open the 
Doores and Locks. 
And it further ordered, that this Order be forthwith Printed and 
Published, to the end that notice may be taken thereof, and all Con- 
temners of it left inexcusable. 



AREOPAGITICA 
A SPEECH 


FOR THE LIBERTY OF UNLICENSED PRINTING 


TI EY who to States and Governors of the Commonwealth 
direct their speech, High Court of Parliament, or wanting 
such access in a private condition, write that which they 
foresee may advance the public good; I suppose them as at the 
beginning of no mean endeavor, not a little altered 1 and moved 
inwardly in their minds: Some with doubt of what will be the 
success,2 others with fear of what will be the censure,3 some with 
hope, others with confidence of what they have to speak. And me 
perhaps each of these dispositions, as the subject was whereon I en- 
tered, may have at other times variously affected; and likely might 
in these foremost expressions now also disclose which of them 
swayed most, but that the very attempt of this address thus made, 
and the thought of whom it hath recourse to, hath got the power 
within me to a passion,' far more welcome than incidentalS to a 
preface. Which though I stay not to confess ere any ask, I shall be 
blameless, if it be no other, than the joy and gratulation which it 
brings to all who wish and promote their country's liberty; whereof 
this whole discourse proposed will be a certain testimony, if not a 
trophy. For this is not the liberty which we can hope, that no 
grievance ever should arise in the commonwealth, that let no man 
in this world expect; but when complaints are freely heard, deeply 
considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil 
liberty attained, that wise men look for. To which if I now manifest 
by the very sound of this which I shall utter, that we are already 
in good part arrived, and yet from such a steep disadvantage of 
tyranny and superstition grounded into our principles as was beyond 
the manhood of a Roman recovery,6 it will be attributed first, as is 


1 Troubled. 2 Issue. 3 Judgment. 
 Enthusiasm. 5 Appropriate. 
61. e., after the decline of the empire. 
18 9 



190 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
most due, to the strong assistance of God our deliverer, next to your 
faithful guidance and undaunted wisdom, Lords and Commons 
of England. Neither is it in God's esteem the diminution of his 
glory, when honorable things are spoken of good men and worthy 
magistrates; which if I now first should begin to do, after so fair a 
progress of your laudable deeds,. and such a long obligement upon 
the whole realm to your indefatigable virtues, I might be justly 
reckoned among the tardiest, and the unwillingest of them that 
praise ye. Nevertheless there being three principal things, without 
which all praising is but courtshi p 7 and flattery; first, when that only 
is praised which is solidly worth praise: next, when greatest likeli- 
hoods are brought that such things are truly and really in those per- 
sons to whom they are ascribed, the other, when he who praises, by 
showing that such his actual persuasion is of whom he writes, can 
demonstrate that he flatters not: the former two of these I have 
heretofore endeavored, rescuing the employment from him who 
went about to impair your merits with a trivial and malignant 
Encomium;8 the latter as belonging chiefly to mine own acquittal, 
that whom I so extolled I did not flatter, hath been reserved op- 
portunely to this occasion. For he who freely magnifies what hath 
been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be 
done better, gives you the best covenant of his fidelity; and that 
his loyalest affection and his hope waits on your proceedings. His 
highest praising is not flattery, and his plainest advice is a kind of 
praising; for though I should affirm and hold by argument, that it 
would fare better with truth, with learning, and the commonwealth, 
if one of your published orders which I should name, were called 
in, yet at the same time it could not but much redound to the luster 
of your mild and equal government, when as private persons are 
hereby animated to think ye better pleased with public advice, 
than other statists 9 have been delighted heretofore with public flat- 
tery. And men will then see what difference there is between the 
magnanimity of a triennial parliament, and that jealous haughti- 
ness of prelates and cabin counselors that usurped of late, when as 
they shall observe ye in the midst of your victories and successes 


7 Courtiership. 


8 Bishop Hall had damned the Parliament with faint praise. 
9 Statesmen. 



AREOPAGITICA 19 1 
more gently brooking written exceptions against a voted order, than 
other courts, which had produced nothing worth memory but the 
weak ostentation of wealth, would have endured the least signified 
dislike at any sudden proclamation. If I should thus far presume 
upon the meek demeanor of your civil and gentle greatness, Lords 
and Commons, as what your published order hath directly said, 
that to gainsay, I might defend myself with ease, if any should 
accuse me of being new or insolent, did they but know how much 
better I find you esteem it to imitate the old and elegant humanity 
of Greece, than the barbaric pride of a Hunnish and Norwegian 
stateliness. And out of those ages, to whose polite wisdom and 
letters we owe that we are not yet Goths and Jutlanders, I could 
name him 10 who from his private house wrote that discourse to the 
parliament of Athens, that persuades them to change the form of 
Democracy which was then established. Such honor was done in 
those days to men who professed the study of wisdom and elo- 
quence, not only in their own country, but in other lands, that cities 
and seigniories heard them gladly, and with great respect, if they 
had ought in public to admonish the state. Thus did Dion Prusæus 
a stranger and a private orator counsel the Rhodians against a for- 
mer edict: and I abound with other like examples, which to set 
here would be superfluous. But if from the industry of a life wholly 
dedicated to studious labors, and those natural endowments happily 
not the worst for two and fifty degrees of northern latitude, so 
much must be derogated,Il as to count me not equal to any of those 
who had this privilege, I would obtain to be thought not so infe- 
rior, as yourselves are superior to the most of them who received 
their counsel: and how far you excel them, be assured, Lords and 
Commons, there can no greater testimony appear, than when your 
prudent spirit acknowledges and obeys the voice of reason from 
what quarter soever it be heard speaking; and renders ye as willing 
to repeal any act of your own setting forth, as any set forth by your 
predecessors. 
If ye be thus resolved, as it were injury to think ye were not, I 
know not what should withhold me from presenting ye with a fit 
instance wherein to show both that love of truth which ye em i- 
10 Isocrates. 11 Subtracted. 



192 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
nently profess, and that uprightness of your judgment which is not 
wont to be partial to yourselves; by judging over again that order 
which ye have ordained to regulate printing. That no book, pam. 
phlet
 or paper shall be henceforth printed
 unless the same be first 
approved and licensed by such
 or at least one of such as shall be 
thereto appointed. For that part which preserves justly every man's 
copy12 to himself, or provides for the poor, I touch not, only wish 
they be not made pretenses to abuse and persecute honest and pain- 
ful men, who offend not in either of these particulars. But that 
other clause of licensing books, which we thought had died with his 
brother quadragesimaZ 13 and matrimoniap3 when the prelates ex- 
pired, I shall now attend with such a homily, as shall lay before 
you, first the inventors of it to be those whom you will be loath to 
own; next what is to be thought in general of reading, what ever 
sort the books be; and that this order avails nothing to the suppress- 
ing of scandalous, seditious, and libelous books, which were mainly 
intended to be suppressed. Last, that it will be primely to the dis- 
couragement of all learning, and the stop of truth, not only by the 
disexercising and blunting our abilities in what we know already, 
but by hindering and èropping the discovery that might be yet 
further made both in religious and civil wisdom. 
I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the church 
and commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean 
themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and 
do sharpest justice on them as malefactors: for books are not abso- 
lutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be 
as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do pre- 
serve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living 
intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously 
productive, as those fabulous dragons teeth; and being sown up 
and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the 
other hand unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as 
kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's 
image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills 
the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden 
12 Copyright. 13 Regulations of the Episcopal Church relating to Lent and 
Marriage. 



AREOPAGITICA 193 
to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master 
spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 
It is true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no 
great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a 
rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. 
We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the 
living labors of public men, how we spill 14 that seasoned life of 
man preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homi- 
cide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it 
extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the 
execution ends not in the slaying of an elementap5 life, but strikes 
at that ethereal and fifth essence/ 6 the breath of reason itself, slays 
an immortality rather than a life. But lest I should be condemned 
of introducing license, while I oppose licensing, I refuse not the 
pains to be so much historical, as will serve to show what has been 
done by ancient and famous commonwealths, against this disorder, 
till the very time that this project of licensing crept out of the In- 
quisition
 was caught up by our prelates, and hath caught some of 
our presbyters. 
In Athens where books and wits were ever busier than in any 
other part of Greece
 I find but only two sorts of writings which the 
magistrate cared to take notice of; those either blasphemous and 
atheistical, or libelous. Thus the books of Protagoras were by the 
judges of Areopagus commanded to be burnt, and himself banished 
the territory for a discourse begun with his confessing not to know 
whether there were gods
 or whether not: And against defaming, it 
was decreed that none should be traduced by name, as was the 
manner of Vetus Comædia,17 whereby we may guess how they cen- 
sured libeling: And this course was quick enough, as Cicero writes, 
to quell both the desperate wits of other atheists, and the open way 
of defaming, as the event showed. Of other sects and opinions 
though tending to voluptuousness, and the denying of divine provi- 
den
e they took no heed. Therefore we do not read that either Epi- 
curus
 or that libertine school of Cyrene
 or what the Cynic impu- 
dence uttered, was ever questioned by the laws. Neither is it re- 
14 Destroy. 15 Material. 16 Spiritual element. 17 The old Attic comedy, e. g., 
of Aristophanes. 



194 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
corded that the writings of those old comedians were suppressed, 
though the acting of them were forbidden; and that Plato com. 
mended the reading of Aristophanes the loosest of them all, to his 
royal scholar Dionysius, is commonly known, and may be excused, 
if holy Chrysostome, as is reported, nightly studied so much the 
same author and had the art to cleanse a scurrilous vehemence into 
the style of a rousing sermon. That other leading city of Gl.eece, 
Lacedæmon, considering that Lycurgtls their law-giver was so ad. 
dicted to elegant learning, as to have been the first that brought out 
of lonia the scattered works of Homer, and sent the poet Thales 
from Crete to prepare and mollify the Spartan surliness with his 
smooth songs and odes, the better to plant among them law and 
civility, it is to be wondered how museless 1s and unboogish they 
were, minding naught but the feats of war. There needed no li- 
censing of books among them for they disliked all, but their own 
Laconic Apothegms, and took a slight occasion to chase Archilochus 
out of their city, perhaps for composing in a higher strain than their 
own soldierly ballads and roundelays could reach to: Or if it were 
for his broad verses, they were not therein so cautious, but they 
were as dissolute in their promiscuous conversing/ 9 whence Euripi- 
des affirms in Andromache, that their women were all unchaste. 
Thus much may give us light after what sort books were prohibited 
among the Greeks. The Romans also for many ages trained up 
only to a military roughness, resembling most of the Lacedæmonian 
guise, knew of learning little but what their twelve tables, and the 
Pontific college with their Augurs and Flamins taught them in re- 
ligion and law, so unacquainted with other learning, that when 
Carneades and Critolaus, with the Stoic Diogenes coming ambassa- 
dors to Rome, took thereby occasion to give the city a taste of their 
philosophy, they were suspected for seducers by no less a man than 
Cato the censor, who moved it in the senate to dismiss them speed- 
ily, and to banish all such Attic babblers out of Italy. But Scipio 
and others of the noblest senators withstood him and his old Sabine 
austerity; honored and admired the men; and the censor himself 
at last in his old age fell to the study of that whereof before he 
was so scrupulous. And yet at the same time N ævius and Plautus 
18 Inartistic. 19 Intercourse. 



AREOPAGITICA 195 
the first Latin comedians had filled the city with all the borrowed 
scenes of Menander and Philemon. Then began to be considered 
there also what was to be done to libelous books and authors; for 
Nævius was quickly cast into prison for his unbridled pen, and 
released by the Tribunes upon his recantation: We read also that 
libels were burned, and the makers punished by Augustus. The like 
severity no doubt was used if aught were impiously written against 
their esteemed gods. Except in these two points, how the world 
went in books, the magistrate kept no reckoning. And therefore 
Lucretius without impeachment versifies his epicurism to Mem- 
mius, and had the honor to be set forth the second time by Cicero 
so great a father of the commonwealth; although himself disputes 
against that opinion in his own writings. Nor was the satirical 
sharpness, or naked plainness of Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus, 
by any order prohibited. And for matters of state, the story of 
Titius Livius, though it extolled that part which Pompey held, was 
not therefore suppressed by Octavius Cæsar of the other faction. 
But that N aso was by him banished in his old age, for the wanton 
poems of his youth, was but a mere covert of state over some secret 
cause: and besides, the books were neither banished nor called in. 
From hence we shall meet with little else but tyranny in the Roman 
empire, that we may not marvel, if not so often bad, as good books 
were silenced. I shall therefore deem to have been large enough in 
producing what among the ancients was punishable to write, save 
only which, all other arguments were free to treat on. 
By this time the emperors were become Christians, whose disci- 
pline in this point I do not find to have been more severe than 
what was formerly in practise. The books of those whom they took 
to be grand heretics were examined, refuted, and condemned in the 
general counsels; and not till then were prohibited, or burned by 
authority of the emperor. As for the writings of heathen authors, 
unless they were plain invectives against Christianity, as those of 
Porphyrius and Proc/us, they met with no inderdict that can be 
cited, till about the year 400, in a Carthaginian council, wherein 
bishops themselves were forbidden to read the books of Gentiles, 
but heresies they might read: while others long before them on the 
contrary scrupled more the books of heretics, than of Gentiles. And 



196 A SPEECH OF JOHN MIL TON 
that the primitive councils and bishops were wont only to declare 
what books were not commendable, passing no further, but leaving 
it to each one's conscience to read or to lay by, till after the year 
800 is observed already by Padre Paolo the great unmasker of the 
Trentine Council. After which time the Popes of Rome engrossing 
what they pleased of political rule into their own hands, extended 
their dominion over men's eyes, as they had before over their judg- 
ments, burning and prohibiting to be read, what they fancied not; 
yet sparing in their censures, and the books not many which they 
so dealt with: till Martin V by his bull not only prohibited, 
but was the first that excommunicated the reading of heretical 
books; for about that time Wyclif and Russ growing terrible, were 
they who first drove the papal court to a stricter policy of prohibit- 
ing. Which course Leo X, and his successors followed, until the 
Council of Trent, and the Spanish inquisition engendering together 
brought forth, or perfected those catalogues, and expurging indexes 
that rake through the entrails of many an old good author, with a 
violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb. Nor did 
they stay in matters heretical, but any subject that was not to their 
palate, they either condemned in a prohibition, or had it straight 
into the new purgatory of an index. To fill up the measure of en- 
croachment, their last invention was to ordain that no book, pam- 
phlet, or paper should be printed (as if St. Peter had bequeathed them 
the keys of the press also out of Paradise) unless it were approved 
and licensed under the hands of two or three glutton friars. For 
example: 


Let the Chancellor Cini be pleased to see if in this present work 
be contained ought that may withstand 20 the printing. 
Vincent Rabatta, Vicar of Florence. 


I have seen this present work, and find nothing athwart the 
Catholic faith and good manners: in witness whereof I have given, 
etc. 


Nicolò Cini, Chancellor of Florence. 
20 Forbid. 



AREOP AGITICA 197 
Attending the precedent relation, it is allowed that this present 
work of Davanzati may be printed, 


Vincent Rabbatta, etc. 


It may be printed, July 15. 


Friar Simon Mompei d'Amelia, 
Chancellor of the holy office in Florence. 
Sure they have a conceit, if he of the bottomless pit had not long 
since broke prison, that this quadruple exorcism would bar him 
down. I fear their next design will be to get into their custody 
the licensing of that which they say Claudius intended, but went 
not through with. Vouchsafe to see another of their forms the 
Roman stamp: 
Imprimatur,21 if it seem good to the reverend master of the holy 
palace, 
Belcastro, Vicegerent. 
Imprimatur, Friar Nicolò Rodolphi, Master of the holy palace. 
Sometimes five Imprimaturs are seen together dialogue-wise in 
the Piatza of one title-page, complimenting and ducking each to 
other with their shaven reverences, whether the author, who stands 
by in perplexity at the foot of his epistle, shall to the press or to 
the sponge. These are the pretty responsories, these are the dear 
antiphonies that so bewitched of late our prelates, and their chap- 
lains with the goodly echo they made; and besotted us to the gay 
imitation of the lordly Imprimatur, one from Lambeth house,22 an- 
other from the West end of Pauls/ 3 so apishly Romanizing, that 
the word of command still was set down in Latin; as if the learned 
grammatical pen that wrote it, would cast no ink without Latin; 
or perhaps, as they thought, because no vulgar tongue was worthy 
to express the pure conceit of an I In primatur,. but rather, as I hope, 
for that our English, the language of men ever famous, and fore- 
most in the achievements of liberty, will not easily find servile 
letters enough to spell such a dictatorie 24 presumption English. And 
thus ye have the inventors and the original of book-licensing ripped 
up, and drawn as lineally as any pedigree. We have it not, that can 
21 Let it be printed (Latin). 22 Residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 
23 Where the Bishop of London formerly lived. 24 Dictatorial. 



198 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
be heard of, from any ancient state, or polity, or church, nor by any 
statute left us by our ancestors, elder or later; nor from the modern 
custom of any reformed city, or church abroad; but from the most 
Antichristian Council 25 and the most tyrannous inquisition that 
ever inquired. Till then books were ever as freely admitted into 
the world as any other birth; the issue of the brain was no more 
stifled than the issue of the womb: no envious I uno sat cross-legged 26 
over the nativity of any man's intellectual offspring; but if it proved 
a monster, who denies, but that it was justly burned, or sunk in the 
sea. But that a book in worse condition than a peccant soul, should 
be to stand before a jury ere it be borne to the world, and undergo 
yet in darkness the judgment of Radamanth and his colleagues,27 
ere it can pass the ferry backward into light, was never heard before, 
till that mysterious iniquity28 provoked and troubled at the first 
entrance of reformation, sought out new limbos and new hells, 
wherein they might include our books also within the number of 
their damned. And this was the rare morsel so officiously snatched 
up, and so ill-favoredly imitated by our inquisiturient 29 bishops, and 
the attendant minorites 30 their chaplains. That ye like not now 
these most certain authors of this licensing order, and that all sinis- 
ter intention was far distant from your thoughts, when ye were 
importuned the passing it, all men who know the integrity of your 
actions, and how ye honor truth, will clear ye readily. 
But some will say, what though the inventors were bad, the 
thing for all that may be good? It may so: yet if that thing be no 
such deep invention, but obvious, and easy for any man to light on, 
and yet best and wisest commonwealths through all ages, and occa- 
sions have forborne to use it, and falsest seducers, and oppressors of 
men were the first who took it up, and to no other purpose but to 
obstruct and hinder the first approach of Reformation; I am of 
those who believe, it will be a harder alchemy than Lulliui 1 ever 
knew, to sublimate 32 any good use out of such an invention. Yet 
this only is what I request to gain from this reason, that it may 
be held a dangerous and suspicious fruit, as certainly it deserveSr 
for the tree that bore it, until I can dissect one by one the proper- 
25 Council of Trent. 26 As at the birth of Hercules. 27 The judges in Hades. 
028 The Church of Rome. 29 Dcsirous of becoming inquisitors. 30 Franciscan 
friars. 31 Raymond Lully, a scientist of the 13th century. 32 Extract. 



AREOPAGITICA 199 
ties it has. But I have first to finish as was propounded, what is to 
be thought in general of reading books, whatever sort they be, 
and whether be more the benefit, or the harm that thence pro- 
ceeds ? 
Not to insist upon the examples of Moses
 Daniel and Paul
 who 
were skilful in all the learning of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and 
Greeks, which could not probably be without reading their books 
of all sorts in Paul especially, who thought it no defilement to insert 
into holy Scripture, the sentences of three Greek poets, and one of 
them a tragedian, the question was, notwithstanding sometimes con- 
troverted among the primitive doctors, but with great odds on that 
side which affirmed it both lawful and profitable, as was then evi- 
dently perceived, when Julian the Apostate, and subtlest enemy of 
our faith, made a decree forbidding Christians the study of heathen 
learning: for, said he, they wound us with our own weapons, and 
with our own arts and sciences they overcome us. And indeed the 
Christians were put so to their shifts by this crafty means, and so 
much in danger to decline into all ignorance, that the two Apollinarii 
were fain as a man may say, to coin all the seven liberal sciences out 
of the Bible, reducing it into divers forms or orations, poems, di- 
alogues, even to the calculating of a new Christian grammar. But 
saith the historian Socrates
 the providence of God provided better 
than the industry of Apollinarius and his son, by taking away that 
illiterate law with the life of him who devised it. So great an injury 
they then held it to be deprived of Hellenic learning; and thought 
it a persecution more undermining, and secretly decaying the church 
than the open cruelty of Decius or Dioc/esian. And perhaps it was 
the same politic drift that the devil whipped St. Jerome in a Ienten 
dream, for reading Cicero; or else it was a phantasm bred by the 
fever which had then seis'd 33 him. F or had an angel been his dis- 
cipliner, unless it were for dwelling too much upon Ciceronian- 
isms, and had chastised the reading, not the vanity, it had been 
plainly partial; first to correct him for grave Cicero
 and not for 
scurril Plautus whom he confesses to have been reading not long 
before; next to correct him only, and let so many more ancient 
Fathers wax old in those pleasant and florid studies without the 
33 Possessed. 



200 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
lash of such a tutoring apparition; insomuch that Basil teaches how 
some good use may be made of Margites a sportful poem, not now 
extant, written by Homer; and why not then of Morgante an Italian 
romance much to the same purpose. But if it be agreed we shall be 
tried by visions, there is a vision recorded by Eusebius far ancienter 
than this tale of Jerome to the nun Eustochium, and besides has 
nothing of a fever in it. Dionysius Alexandrinus was about the year 
240, a person of great name in the Church for piety and learning, 
who had wont to avail himself much against heretics by being 
conversant in their books; until a certain presbyter laid it scrupu- 
lously to his conscience how he durst venture himself among those 
defiling volumes. The worthy man loath to give offense fell into 
a new debate with himself what was to be thought; when suddenly 
a vision sent from God, it is his own epistle that so avers it, con- 
firmed him in these words: read any books what ever come to thy 
hands, for thou art sufficient both to judge aright, and to examine 
each matter. To this revelation he assented the sooner, as he confesses, 
because it was answerable to 34 that of the Apostle to the Thessa- 
lonians, prove 35 all things, hold fast that which is good. And he 
might have added another remarkable saying of the same author; 
to the pure all things are pure, not only meats and drinks, but all 
kind of knowledge whether of good or evil; the knowledge can not 
defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not 
defiled. For books are as meats and viands are, some of good, some 
of evil substance; and yet God in that unapocryphal vision, said 
without exception rise Peter, kill and eat, leaving the choice to each 
man's discretion. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little 
or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind 
are not unappliable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed 
good nourishment in the healthiest concoction: but herein the differ- 
ence is of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader 
serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to 
illustrate. Whereof what better witness can ye expect I should pro- 
duce, than one of your own now sitting in Parliament, the chief of 
learned men reputed in this land, Mr. Selden, whose volume of 
natural and national laws proves, not only by great authorities 
34 Consistent with. 35 Test. 



AREOP AGITICA 


201 


brought together, but by exquisite 36 reasons and theorems almost 
mathematically demonstrative, that all opinions, yea errors, known, 
read, and collated, are of main service and assistance toward the 
speedy attainment of what is truest. I conceive therefore, that when 
God did enlarge the universal diet of man's body, saving ever the 
rules of temperance, he then also, as before, left arbitrary the dieting 
and repasting of our minds; as wherein every mature man might 
have to exercise his own leading capacity. How great a virtue is 
temperance, how much of moment through the whole life of man? 
yet God commits the managing so great a trust, without particular 
law or prescription, wholly to the demeanor of every grown man. 
And therefore when he himself tabled 37 the Jews from heaven, that 
orner which was every man's daily portion of manna, is computed 
to have been more than might have well sufficed the heartiest feeder 
thrice as many meals. For those actions which enter into a man, 
rather than issue out of him, and therefore defile not, God uses not 
to captivate under a perpetual childhood of prescription, but trusts 
him with the gift of reason to be his own chooser; there were but 
little work left for preaching, if law and compulsion [should] grow 
so fast upon those things which heretofore were governed only by 
exhortation. Solomon informs us that much reading is a weariness 
to the flesh; but neither he, nor other inspired author, tells us that 
such or such reading is unlawful: yet certainly had God thought 
good to limit us herein, it had been much more expedient to have 
told us what was unlawful, than what was wearisome. As for the 
burning of those Ephesian books by St. Paul's converts, it is replied 
the books were magic, the Syriac so renders them. It was a private 
act, a voluntary act, and leaves us to a voluntary imitation: the men 
in remorse burned those books which were their own; the Magis- 
trate by this example is not appointed: these men practised the books, 
another might perhaps have read them in some sort usefully. Good 
and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost 
inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and inter- 
woven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning re- 
semblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which 
were imposed on Psyche as an incessant labor to cull out, and sort 
36 Carefully sought out. 37 Fed. 



202 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out of the rind of 
one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil as two twins 
cleaving together leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is 
that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is 
to say of knowing good by evil. As therefore the state of man now 
is; what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear 
without the knowledge of evil? He that can apprehend and con- 
sider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, 
and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is 
the true warfaring Christian. I can not praise a fugitive and cloistered 
virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees 
her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal gar- 
land is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring 
not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather: that 
which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That vir- 
tue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, 
and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and 
rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an 
excrementap8 whiteness; which was the reason why our sage and 
serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher 
than Scotus or Aquinas, describing true temperance under the person 
of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of Mam- 
mon, and the bower of earthly bliss that he might see and know, 
and yet abstain. Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice 
is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and 
the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more 
safely, and with less danger scout into the regions of sin and falsity 
than by reading all manner of tracts, and hearing all manner of 
reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books pro- 
miscuously read. But of the harm that may result hence three kinds 
are usually reckoned. First, is feared the infection that may spread; 
but then all human learning and controversy in religious points must 
remove out of the world, yea the Bible itself; for that ofttimes relates 
blasphemy not nicely,39 it describes the carnal sense of wicked men 
not unelegantly/o it brings in holiest men passionately murmuring 
against Providence through all the arguments of Epicurus: in other 
38 External. 39 Fastidiously. 40 Not without elaboration. 



AREOP AGITICA 


20 3 


great disputes it answers dubiously and darkly to the common 
reader: and ask a Talmudist what ails the modesty of his mdrginal 
kerV I that Moses and all the Prophets can not persuade him to pro- 
nounce the textual chetiv. 42 For these causes we all know the Bible 
itself put by the Papist into the first rank of prohibited books. The 
ancientest Fathers must be next removed, as Clement of Alexandria, 
and that Eusebian book of evangelic preparation, transmitting our 
ears through a hoard of heathenish obscenities to receive the Gospel. 
Who finds not that Irenæus, Epiphanius, Jerome, and others dis- 
cover more heresies than they well confute, and that oft for heresy 
which is the truer opinion. Nor boots it to say for these, and all the 
heathen writers of greatest infection, if it must be thought so, with 
whom is bound up the life of human learning, that they wrote in an 
unknown tongue, so long as we are sure those languages are known 
as well to the worst of men, who are both most able, and most dili- 
gent to instil the poison they suck, first into the courts of princes, 
acquainting them with the choicest delights, and criticisms of sin. 
As perhaps did that Petronius whom Nero called his Arbiter, the 
master of his revels; and that notorious ribald of Arezzo,43 dredded, 
and yet dear to the Italian courtiers. I name not him 44 for posterity's 
sake, whom Harry the Eighth, named in merriment his vicar of 
hell. By which compendious way all the contagion that foreign 
books can infuse, will find a passage to the people far easier and 
shorter than an Indian voyage, though it could be sailed either by 
the north of Cataio 45 eastward, or of Canada westward, while our 
Spanish licensing gags the English press never so severely. But on 
the other side that infection which is from books of controversy in 
religion, is more doubtful and dangerous to the learned, than to the 
ignorant; and yet those books must be permitted untouched by the 
licenser. It will be hard to instance where any ignorant man hath 
been ever seduced by Papistical book in English, unless it were 
commended and expounded to him by some of that clergy: and 
indeed all such tracts whether false or true are as the Prophecy of 
Isaiah was to the Eunuch, not to be understood without a guide. 
But of our priests and doctors how many have been corrupted by 
41 Comment. 42 Text. 43 Aretino. 44 Probably the poet Skelton. 
45 Cathay, in Tartary. 



204 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
studying the comments of Jesuits and Sorbonnists,46 and how fast 
they could transfuse that corruption into the people, our experience 
is both late and sad. It is not forgot, since the acute and distinct 41 
Arminius was perverted merely by the perusing of a nameless dis- 
course written at Delft, which at first he took in hand to confute. 
Seeing therefore that those books, and those in great abundance 
which are likeliest to taint both life and doctrine, can not be sup- 
pressed without the fall of learning, and of all ability in disputation, 
and that these books of either sort are most and soonest catching to 
the learned, from whom to the common people whatever is heretical 
or dissolute may quickly be conveyed, and that evil manners are as 
perfectly learned without books a thousand other ways which can 
not be stopped, and evil doctrine not with books can propagate, 
except a teacher guide, which he might also do without writing, and 
so beyond prohibiting, I am not able to unfold, how this cautelous 48 
enterprise of licensing can be exempted from the number of vain and 
impossible attempts. And he who were pleasantly disposed, could 
not well avoid to liken it to the exploit of that gallant man who 
thought to pound up the crows by shutting his park gate. Besides 
another inconvenience, if learned men be the first receivers out of 
books and dispreaders both of vice and error, how shall the licensers 
themselves be confided in, unless we can confer upon them, or they 
assume to themselves above all others in the land, the grace of in- 
fallibility, and uncorruptedness? And again if it be true, that a wise 
man like a good refiner can gather gold out of the drossiest volume, 
and that a fool will be a fool with the best book, yea or without 
book, there is no reason that we should deprive a wise man of any 
advantage to his wisdom, while we seek to restrain from a fool 
that which being restrained will be no hindrance to his folly. For 
if there should be so much exactness always used to keep that from 
him which is unfit for his reading, we should in judgment of Aris- 
totle not only, but of Solomon, and of our Saviour, not vouchsafe 
him good precepts, and by consequence not willingly admit him to 
good books, as being certain that a wise man will make better use 
of an idle pamphlet, than a fool will do of sacred Scripture. It is next 


46 From the theological college of the Sorbonne, in Paris. 47 Clear-thinking. 
48 Tricky, deceptive. 



AREOP AGITICA 205 
alleged we must not expose ourselves to temptations without neces- 
sity, and next to that, not employ our time in vain things. To both 
these objections one answer will serve, out of the grounds already 
laid, that to all men such books are not temptations, nor vanities; 
but useful drugs and materials wherewith to temper and compose 
effective and strong medicines, which man's life can not want. 49 The 
rest, as children and childish men, who have not the art to qualify 
and prepare these working minerals, well may be exhorted to for- 
bear, but hindered forcibly they can not be by all the licensing that 
sainted inquisition could ever yet contrive; which is what I promised 
to deliver next, that this order of licensing conduces nothing to the 
end for which it was framed: and hath almost prevented 50 me by 
being clear already while thus much hath been explaining. See the 
ingenuity51 of truth, who when she gets a free and willing hand, 
opens herself faster, than the pace of method and discourse can over- 
take her. It was the task which I began with, to show that no na- 
tion, or well instituted state, if they valued books at all, did ever 
use this way of licensing; and it might be answered, that this is a 
piece of prudence lately discovered, to which I return, that as it was 
a thing slight and obvious to think on, for if it had been difficult 
to find out, there wanted not among them long since, who suggested 
such a course; which they not following, leave us a pattern of their 
judgment, that it was not the not knowing, but the not approving, 
which was the cause of their not using it. Plato, a man of high 
authority indeed, but least of all for his Commonwealth, in the book 
of his laws, which no city ever received, fed his fancy with making 
many edicts to his airy52 burgomasters, which they who otherwise 
admire him, wish had been rather buried and excused in the genial 
cups of an academic night-sitting. By which laws he seems to toler- 
ate no kind of learning, but by unalterable decree, consisting most of 
practical traditions, to the attainment whereof a library of smaller 
bulk than his own dialogues would be abundant. And there also 
enacts that no poet should so much as read to any private man, what 
he had written, until the judges and lawkeepers had seen it, and 
allowed it: but that Plato meant this law peculiarly to that Com- 
monwealth which he had imagined, and to no other, is evident. 
49 Do without. 50 Anticipated. 51 Ingenuousness, frankness. 52 Imaginary. 



206 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
Why was he not else a law-giver to himself, but a transgressor, and 
to be expelled by his own magistrates, both for the wanton epigrams 
and dialogues which he made, and his perpetual reading of Sophron 
Mimus, and Aristophanes, books of grossest infamy, and also for 
commending the latter of them though he were the malicious libeller 
of his chief friends,53 to be read by the tyrant Dionysius, who had 
little need of such trash to spend his time on? But that he knew 
this licensing of poems had reference and dependence to many other 
provisos there set down in his fancied republic, which in this world 
could have no place: and so neither he himself, nor any magistrate, 
or city ever imitated that course, which taken apart from those other 
collateral injunctions must needs be vain and fruitless. For if they 
fell upon 54 one kind of strictness, unless their care were equal to 
regulate all other things of like aptness to corrupt the mind, that 
single endeavor they knew would be but a fond labor; to shut and 
fortify one gate against corruption, and be necessitated to leave 
others round about wide open. If we think to regulate printing, 
thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and 
pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, 
no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric. There must 
be licensing dancers, that no gesture, motion, or deportment be 
taught our youth but what by their allowance shall be thought 
honest; for such Plato was provided of; it will ask more than the 
work of twenty licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and 
the guitars in every house; they must not be suffered to prattle as 
they do, but must be licensed what they may say. And who shall 
silence all the airs and madrigals, that whisper softness in chambers? 
The windows also, and the balconies must be thought on, there are 
shrewd 55 books, with dangerous frontispieces set to sale; who shall 
prohibit them, shall twenty licensers? The villages also must have 
their visitors to inquire what lectures the bagpipe and the rebbeck 56 
reads even to the balladry, and the gamut of every municipal fiddler, 
for these are the countryman's Arcadial 7 and his Monte Mayors. 57 
Next, what more national corruption, for which England hears ill 58 
abroad, then household gluttony; who shall be the rectors 59 of our 


53 E. g., of Socrates. 54 Adopted vigorously. 55 Wicked. 56 Fiddle. 57 Popular 
novels of the 15th century. 58 Is ill-spoken of. 59 Governors. 



AREOP AGITICA 207 
daily rioting? and what shall be done to inhibit the multitudes that 
frequent those houses where drunkenness is sold and harbored? OUf 
garments also should be referred to the licensing of some more sober 
work-masters to see them cut into a less wanton garb. Who shall 
regulate all the mixed conversation 60 of our youth, male and female 
together, as is the fashion of this country, who shall still appoint 
what shall be discoursed, what presumed, and no further? Lastly, 
who shall forbid and separate all idle resort, all evil company? These 
things will be, and must be; but how they shall be less hurtful, how 
less enticing, herein consists the grave and governing wisdom of a 
State. To sequester out of the world into Atlantic and Utopian 
polities,61 which never can be drawn into use, will not mend our 
condition; but to ordain wisely as in this world of evil, in the midst 
whereof God hath placed us unavoidably. Nor is it Platd s licensing 
of books will do this, which necessarily pulls along with it so many 
other kinds of licensing, as will make us all both ridiculous and 
weary, and yet frustrate; but those unwritten, or at least unconstrain- 
ing laws of virtuous education, religious and civil nurture, which 
Plato there mentions, as the bonds and ligaments of the Common- 
wealth, the pillars and the sustainers of every written statute; these 
they be which will bear chief sway in such matters as these, when 
all licensing will be easily eluded. Impunity and remissness, for 
certain are the bane of a Commonwealth, but here the great art lies 
to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and punishment, and 
in what things persuasion only is to work. If every action which is 
good, or evil in man at ripe years, were to be under pittance, and 
prescription, and compulsion, what were virtue but a namt;, what 
praise could be then due to well-doing, what grammercy62 to be 
sober, just, or continent? many there be that complain of divine 
providence for suffering Adam to transgress, foolish tongues! when 
God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is 
but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam 
as he is in the motions. 63 We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, 
or love, or gift, which is of force; God therefore left him free, set 
before him a provoking object, ever almost in his eyes herein con- 


60 Intercourse. 61 /. e., into imaginary commonwealths, like Bacon's "New Atlancis" 
and More's "Utopia." 62 Great thanks. 63 Puppet shows. 



208 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
sisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his 
abstinence. Wherefore did he create passions within us, pleasures 
round about us, but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredi- 
ents of virtue? They are not skilful considerers of human things, 
who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin; for, be- 
sides that it is a huge heap increasing under the very act of dimin- 
ishing though some part of it may for a time be withdrawn from 
some persons, it can not froIT.. all, in such a universal thing as books 
are; and when this is done, yet the sin remains entire. Though ye 
take from a covetous man all his treasure he has yet one jewel left, 
ye can not bereave him of his covetousness. Banish all objects of 
lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exer- 
cised in any hermitage, ye can not make them chaste, that came not 
thither so; such great care and wisdom is required to the right man- 
aging of this point. Suppose we could expel sin by this means; look 
how much we thus expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue: for the 
matter of them both is the same; remove that, and ye remove them 
both alike. This justifies the high providence of God, who though 
he command us temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before 
us even to a profuseness all desirable things, and gives us minds that 
can wander beyond all limit and satiety. Why should we then effect 
a rigor contrary to the manner of God and of nature, by abridging or 
scanting those means, which books freely permitted are, both to 
the trial of virtue, and the exercise of truth. It would be better done 
to learn that the law must needs be frivolous which goes to restrain 
things, uncertainly and yet equally working to good, and to evil. 
And were I the chooser, a dram of well-doing should be preferred 
before many times as much the forcible hindrance of evil-doing. For 
God sure esteems the growth and completing of one virtuous person, 
more than the restraint of ten vicious. And albeit whatever thing 
we hear or see, sitting, walking, traveling, or conversing may be fitly 
called our book, and is of the same effect that writings are, yet grant 
the thing to be prohibited were only books, it appears that this order 
hitherto is far insufficient to the end which it intends. Do we not 
see, not once or oftener, but weekly that continued court-libeI6
 
against the Parliament and city, printed, as the wet sheets can wit- 
6
 "Mcrcurius Aulicus," a royalist journal. 



AREOPAGITICA 209 
ness, and dispersed among us for all that licensing can do? yet this 
is the prime service a man would think, wherein this order should 
give proof of itself. If it were executed, you'll say. But certain, if 
execution be remiss or blindfold now, and in this particular, what 
will it be hereafter, and in other books. If then the order shall not 
be vain and frustrate, behold a new labor, Lords and Commons, ye 
must repeal and proscribe all scandalous and unlicensed books al- 
ready printed and divulged 65 : after ye have drawn them up into a 
list, that all may know which are condemned, and which not; and 
ordain that no foreign books be delivered out of custody, till they 
have been read over. This office will require the whole time of not 
a few overseers, and those no vulgar 66 men. There be also books 
which are partly useful and excellent, partly culpable and pernicious; 
this work will ask as many more officials to make expurgations and 
expunctions,67 that the commonwealth of learning be not damnified. 68 
In fine, when the multitude of books increase upon their hands, ye 
must be fain to catalogue all those printers who are found frequently 
offending, and forbid the importation of their whole suspected 
typography. In a word, that this order may be exact, and not defi- 
cient, ye must reform it perfectly according to the model of Trent 69 
and Seville,70 which I know ye abhor to do. Yet though ye should 
condescend to this, which God forbid, the order still would be but 
fruitless and defective to that end whereto ye meant it. If to pre- 
vent sects and schisms, who is so unread or so uncatechised in story, 
that hath not heard of many sects refusing books as a hindrance, and 
preserving their doctrine unmixed for many ages, only by unwritten 
traditions. The Christian faith, for that was once a schism, is not 
unknown to have spread all over Asia, ere any Gospel or Epistle was 
seen in writing. If the amendment of manners be aimed at, look into 
Italy and Spain, whether those places be one scruple the better, the 
more honest, the wiser, the chaster, since all the inquisitional rigor 
that hath been executed upon books. 
Another reason, whereby to make it plain that this order will miss 
the end it seeks, consider by the quality which ought to be in every 
licenser. It can not be denied but that he who is made judge to sit 


65 Published. 66 Ordinary. 67 Omissions. 68 Injured. 69 Council of Trent. 
70 Headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition. 



210 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
upon the birth, or death of books whether they may be wafted into 
this world, or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, 
both studious, learned, and judicious; there may be else no mean 
mistakes in the censure of what is passable or not; which is also no 
mean injury. If he be of such worth as behooves him, there can 
not be a more tedious and unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss 
of times levied upon his head, than to be made the perpetual reader 
of unchosen books and pamphlets, ofttimes huge volumes. There is 
no book that is acceptable unless at certain seasons; but to be en- 
joined the reading of that at all times, and in a hand scarce legible, 
whereof three pages would not down at any time in the fairest 
print, is an imposition which I can not believe how he that values 
time, and his own studies, or is but of a sensible nostril should be 
able to endure. In this one thing I crave leave of the present licensers 
to be pardoned for so thinking: who doubtless took this office up, 
looking on it through their obedience to the Parliament, whose com- 
mand perhaps made all things seem easy and unlaborious to them; 
but that this short trial hath wearied them out already, their own ex- 
pressions and excuses to them who make so many journeys to solicit 
their license, are testimony enough. Seeing therefore those who now 
possess the employment, by all evident signs with themselves well rid 
of it, and that no man of worth, none that is not a plain unthrift of his 
own hours is ever likely to succeed them, except he mean to put him- 
self to the salary of a press-cO'rrector, we may easily foresee what kind 
of licensers we are to expect hereafter, either ignorant, imperious, 
and remiss, or hasely pecuniary. This is what I had to show wherein 
this order can not conduce to that end, whereof it bears the inten- 
tion. 
I lastly proceeded from the no good it can do, to the manifest hurt 
it causes, in being first the greatest discouragement and affront that 
can be offered to learning and to learned men. It was the complaint 
and lamentation of prelates, upon every least breath of a motion to 
remove pluralities,71 and distribute more equally church revenues, 
that then all learning would be forever dashed and discouraged. But 
as for that opinion, I never found cause to think that the tenth part 
71 The holding of several livings by one clergyman had been a chief cause of 
complaint against the Episcopal Church. 



AREOPAGITICA 211' 
of learning stood or fell with the clergy: nor could I ever but hold it 
for a sordid and unworthy speech of any churchman who had a com- 
petency left him. If therefore ye be loath to dishearten utterly and 
discontent, not the mercenary crew of false pretenders to learning, 
but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were born to 
study, and love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any other end, 
but the service of God and of truth, and perhaps that lasting fame 
and perpetuity of praise which God and good men have consented 
shall be the reward of those whose published labors advance the good 
of mankind, then know, that so far to distrust the judgment and the 
honesty of one who hath but a common repute in learning, and 
never yet offended, as not to count him fit to print his mind without 
a tutor and examiner, lest he should drop a schism, or something 
of corruption, is the greatest displeasure and indignity to a free and 
knowing spirit that can be put upon him. What advantage is it to 
be a man over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only escaped the 
ferular,12 to come under the fescu 72 of an Imprimatur? if serious and 
elaborate writings, as if they were no more than the theme of a gram- 
mar lad under his pedagogue must not be uttered 73 without the 
cursory eyes of a temporizing and extemporizing licenser. He who 
is not trusted with his own actions, his drift not being known to be 
evil, and standing to the hazard of law and penalty, has no great 
argument to think himself reputed in the commonwealth wherein 
he was born, for other than a fool or a foreigner. When a man writes 
to the world, he summons up all his reason, and deliberation to assist 
him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and 
confers with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes him- 
self to be informed in what he writes, as well as any that wrote 
before him; if in this the most consummate act of his fidelity and 
ripeness, no years, no industry, no former proof of his abilities can 
bring him to that state of maturity, as not to be still mistrusted and 
suspected, unless he carryall his considerate diligence, all his mid- 
night watchings, and expense of Palladian" oil, to the hasty view of 
an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps far his 
inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the labor of 
book-writing, and if he be not repulsed, or slighted, must appear in 
72 Rod. 13 Published. 74, From Pallas, goddess of learning. 



212 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
print like a puny75 with his guardian, and his censor's hand on the 
back of his tiùe to be his bail and surety, that he is no idiot, or 
seducer, it can not be but a dishonor and derogation to the author, 
to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning. And what if the 
author shall be one so copious of fancy, as to have many things well 
worth the adding, come into his mind after licensing, while the book 
is yet under the press, which not seldom happens to the best and 
most diligent writers; and that perhaps a dozen times in one book. 
The printer dares not go beyond his licensed copy; so often then must 
the author trudge to his leave-giver, that those his new insertions may 
be viewed; and many a jaunt will be made, ere that licenser, for it 
must be the same man, can either be found, or found at leisure; 
meanwhile either the press must stand still, which is no small dam- 
age, or the author lose his most accurate thoughts, and send the book 
forth worse than he had made it, which to a diligent writer is the 
greatest melancholy and vexation that can befall. And how can a 
man teach with authority, which is the life of teaching, how can he 
be a doctor in his book as he ought to be, or else had better be silent, 
when as all he teaches, all he delivers, is but under the tuition, under 
the correction of his patriarchal licenser to blot or alter what pre- 
cisely accords not with the hidebound humor which he calls his 
judgment? When every acute reader upon the first sight of a pe- 
dantic license, will be ready with these like words to ding 76 the book 
a quoit's distance from him: "I hate a pupil teacher, I endure not an 
instructor that comes to me under the wardship of an overseeing fist. 
I know nothing of the licenser, but that I have his own hand here 
for his arrogance; who shall warrant me his judgment?" "The 
State, sir," replies the Stationer, but has a quick return: "The State 
shall be my governors, but not my critics; they may be mistaken in 
the choice of a licenser, as easily as this licenser may be mistaken in 
an author: this is some common stuff;" and he might add from Sir 
Francis Bacon, That such authorized books are but the language 
of the times. For though a licenser should happen to be judicious 
more than ordinarily, which will be a great jeopardy of the next 
succession, yet his very office, and his commission enjoins him to let 
pass nothing but what is vulgarly received already. Nay, which is 
75 Minor. 76 Throw violently. 



AREOP AGITICA 2 13 
more lamentable, if the work of any deceased author, though never 
so famous in his lifetime, and even to this day, come to other hands 
for license to be printed, or reprinted, if there be found in his book 
one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, and 
who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine spirit, yet 
not suiting with every low decrepit humor of their own, though it 
were Knox himself, the reformer of a kingdom that spake it, they will 
not pardon him their dash: 77 the sense of that great man shall to all 
posterity be lost, for the fearfulness, or the presumptuous rashness of 
a perfunctory licenser. And to what an author this violence hath 
been lately done, and in what book of greatest consequence to be 
faithfully published, I could now instance, but shall forbear till a 
more convenient season. Yet if these things be not resented seriously 
and timely by them who have the remedy in their power, but that 
such iron molds 78 as these shall have authority to gnaw out the 
choicest periods of the most exquisite books, and to commit such a 
treacherous fraud against the orphan remainders of worthiest men 
after death, the more sorrow will belong to that hapless race of men, 
whose misfortune it is to have understanding. Henceforth let no 
man care to learn, or care to be more than worldly wise; for certainly 
in higher matters to be ignorant and slothful, to be a common stead- 
fast dunce will be the only pleasant life, and only in request. 
And as it is a particular disesteem of every knowing person alive, 
and most injurious to the written labors and monuments of the dead, 
so to me it seems an undervaluing and vilifying 79 of the whole 
nation. I can not set so light by all the invention, the art, the wit, 
the grave and solid judgment which is in England, as that it can be 
comprehended in any twenty capacities how good soever, much less 
that it should not pass except their superintendence be over it, ex- 
cept it be sifted and strained with their strainers, that it should be 
uncurrent without their manual stamp. Truth and understanding 
are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets 80 
and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple 
commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it 
like our broadcloth, and our wool packs. What is it but a servitude 
like that imposed by the Philistines, not to be allowed the sharpen- 
77 Dare to blot it out. 78 Rust. 79 Cheapening. 80 Receipts. 



214 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
ing of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from all quar- 
ters to twenty licensing forges. Had anyone written and divulged 
erroneous things and scandalous to honest life, misusing and for- 
feiting the esteem had of his reason among men, if after convic- 
tion this only censure were adjudged him, that he should never 
henceforth write, but what were first examined by an appointed 
officer, whose hand should be annexed to pass his credit for him, 
that now he might be safely read, it could not be apprehended less 
than a disgraceful punishment. Whence to include the whole na- 
tion, and those that never yet thus offended, under such a diffident 81 
and suspectful prohibition, may plainly be understood what a dis- 
paragement it is. So much the more, when as debtors and delin- 
quents may walk abroad without a keeper, but unoffensive books 
must not stir forth without a visible jailer in their title. Nor is it 
to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be so jealous 
over 82 them, as that we dare not trust them with an English pamph- 
let, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and un- 
grounded people; in such a sick and weak estate of faith and discre- 
tion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a 
licenser. That this is care or love of them, we can not pretend, 
whenas in those popish places where the laity are most hated and 
despised the same strictness is used over them. Wisdom we can not 
call it, because it stops but one breach of license, nor that neither; 
when as those corruptions which it seeks to prevent, break in faster 
at other doors which can not be shut. 
And in conclusion it reflects to the disrepute of our ministers also, 
of whose labors we should hope better, and of the proficiency which 
their flock reaps by them, than that after all this light of the Gospel 
which is, and is to be, and all this continual preaching, they should 
be still frequented with such an unprincipled, unedified, and laick 83 
rabble, as that the whiff of every new pamphlet should stagger them 
out of their catechism, and Christian walking. This may have much 
reason to discourage the ministers when such a low conceit is had 
of all their exhortations, and the benefiting of their hearers, as that 
they are not thought fit to be turned loose to three sheets of paper 
without a licenser, that all the sermons, all the lectures preached, 
81 Distrusting. 82 Suspect. 83 Ignorant. 



AREOP AGITICA 2 I 5 
printed, vented in such numbers, and such volumes, as have now 
well-nigh made all other books unsalable, should not be armor 
enough against one single enchiridion,84 without the castle St. 
AngeloB!) of an Imprimatur. 
And lest some should persuade ye, Lord and Commons, that these 
arguments of learned men's discouragement at this your order, are 
mere flourishes, and not real, I could recount what I have seen and 
heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes; 
when I have sat among their learned men, for that honor I had, 
and been counted happy to be born in such a place of Philosophic 
freedom, as they supposed England was, while themselves did 
nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning 
amongst them was brought; that this was it which had damped the 
glory of Italian wits; that nothing had been there written now these 
many years but flattery and fustian. There it was .that I found and 
visited the famous Calileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition, 
for thinking in astronomy, otherwise than the Franciscan and Domi- 
nican licensers thought. And though I knew that England then was 
groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke, nevertheless I took it 
as a pledge of future happiness, that other nations were so persuaded 
of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope that those worthies were 
then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders to such a deliv- 
erance, as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of time that 
this world hath to finish. When that was once begun, it was as little 
in my fear, that what words of complaint I heard among learned 
men of other parts uttered against the Inquisition, the same I should 
hear by as learned men at home uttered in time of Parliament 
against an order of licensing; and that so generally, that when I dis- 
closed myself a companion of their discontent, I might say, if with- 
out envy, that he 86 whom an honest quæstorship had endeared to the 
Sicilians, was not more by them importuned against Verres, than the 
favorable opinion which I had among many who honor ye, and are 
known and respected by ye, loaded me with entreaties and persua- 
sions, that I would not despair to lay together that which just reason 
should bring into my mind, toward the removel of an undeserved 


8' A pun on the two meanings of dagger and hand-book. 
85 The Pope's fortress. 86 Cicero. 



216 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
thraldom upon learning. That this is not therefore the disburden- 
ing of a particular fancy, but the common grievance of all those who 
had prepared their minds and studies above the vulgar pitch to ad- 
vance truth in others, and from others to entertain it, thus much may 
satisfy. And in their name I shall for neither friend nor foe conceal 
what the general murmur is; that if it come to inquisitioning again, 
and licensing, and that we are so timorous of ourselves, and so sus- 
picious of all men, as to fear each book, and the shaking of every 
leaf, before we know what the contents are, if some who but of late 
were little better than silenced from preaching, shall come now to 
silence us from reading, except what they please, it can not be guessed 
what is intended by some but a second tyranny over learning: and 
will soon put it out of controversy that bishops and presbyters are 
the same to us both name and thing. That those evils of prelacy 
which before from five or six and twenty sees were distributively 
charged upon the whole people, will now light wholly upon learn- 
ing, is not obscure to us: whereas now the pastor of a small unlearned 
parish, on the sudden shall be exalted archbishop over a large diocese 
of books, and yet not remove, but keep his other cure too, a mystical 
pluralist. He who but of late cried down the sole ordination of every 
novice bachelor of art, and denied sole jurisdiction over the simplest 
parishioner, shall now at home in his private chair assume both these 
over worthiest and most excellent books and ablest authors that write 
them. This is not, ye covenants and protestations that we have made, 
this is not to put down prelacy, this is but to chop87 an episcopacy, 
this is but to translate the palace Metropolitan from one kind of 
dominion into another, this is but an old canonical sleight 88 of 
commuting our penance. 89 To starùe thus betimes at a mere un- 
licensed pamphlet will after a while be afraid of every conventicle,90 
and a while a&er will make a conventicle of every Christian meet- 
ing. But I am certain that a state governed by the rules of justice 
and fortitude, or a church built and founded upon the rock of faith 
and true knowledge, can not be so pusillanimous. While things are 
yet not constituted in religion, that freedom of writing should be re- 


87 Exchange. 88 Trick allowed by the canon law. 
89 Exchanging one kind of penance for another. 90 Non-conformist assembly. 



AREOPAGITICA 217 
strained by a discipline imitated from the prelates, and learned by 
them from the Inquisition to shut us up all again into the breast of 
a licenser, must needs give cause of doubt and discouragement to all 
learned and religious men. 
Who can not but discern the fineness of this politic drift, and who 
are the contrivers; that while bishops were to be baited 91 down, then 
all presses might be open; it was the people's birthright and privilege 
in time of Parliament, it was the breaking forth of light. But now the 
bishops abrogated and voided out 92 of the church, as if our Reforma- 
tion sought no more, but to make room for others into their seats 
under another name, the episcopal arts begin to bud again, the cruse 
of truth must run no more oil, liberty of printing must be enthralled 
again under a prelatical commission of twenty, the privilege of the 
people nullified, and which is worse, the freedom of learning must 
groan again and to her old fetters; all this the Parliament yet sit- 
ting. Although their own late arguments and defenses against the 
prelates might remember them that this obstructing violence meets 
for the most part with an event utterly opposite to the end which it 
drives at: instead of suppressing sects and schisms, it raises them and 
invests them with a reputation: liThe punishing of wits enhances 
their authority /' saith the Viscount St. Albans, II and a forbidden 
writing is thought to he a certain spark of truth that flies up in the 
faces of them who seek to tread it out." This order therefore may 
prove a nursing mother to sects, but I shall easily show how it will 
be a step-dame to truth: and first by disenabling us to the mainte- 
nance of what is known already. 
Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowl- 
edge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion. 93 
Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her 
waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy 
pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the 
truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or 
the Assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though 
his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds, becomes his heresy. 
There is not any burden that some would gladder post off to another, 
91 Worried (as by dogs). 92 Abolished. 93 Constitution. 



2 I 8 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
than the charge and care of their religion. There be, who knows not 
that there be of Protestants and professors 94 who live and die in as 
errant and implicit 95 faith, as any lay Papist or Loretto. 96 A wealthy 
man addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be 
a traffic so entangled, and of so many piddling 97 accounts, that of all 
mysteries 98 he can not skill 99 to keep a stock going upon that trade. 
What should he do? fain he would have the name to be religious, 
fain he would bear up with his neighbors in that. What does he 
therefore, but resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out 
some factor,lOO to whose care and credit he may commit the whole 
managing of his religious affairs; some divine of note and estima- 
tion that must be. To him he adheres, resigns the whole warehouse 
of his religion, with all the locks and keys into his custody; and in- 
deed makes the very person of that man his religion; esteems his 
associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his 
own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more 
within himself, but is become an individuapol movable, and goes 
and comes near him, according as that good man frequents the house. 
He entertains him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his 
religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptu- 
ously laid to sleep, rises, is saluted, and after the malmsey,102 or some 
well spiced bruage,103 and better breakfasted than he whose morning 
appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and 
Jerusalem, his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind 
entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion. 
Another sort there be who when they hear that all things shall be 
ordered, all things regulated and. settled; nothing written but what 
passes through the custom-house of certain publicans 104 that have the 
tunaging and the poundaging 105 of all free spoken truth, will 
straight give themselves up into your hands, make them and cut 
them out what religion ye please; there be delights, there be recre- 
ations and jolly pastimes that will fetch the day about from sun to 
sun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream. Whae 06 
94 Puritans. 95 Taken on trust. 116 A famous place of pilgrimage in central 
Italy. 91 Petty. 98 Trades. 99 Manage. 100 Agent. 101 Separable. 
102 The morning draft of wine. 103 Ale, or other drink. 104 Tax-collectors. 
105 A reference to the illegal tax levied by Charles I. 106 Why. 



AREOPAGITICA 219 
need they torture their heads with that which others have taken so 
strictly, and so unalterably into their own purveying? These are the 
fruits which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring 
forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wished were 
such an obedient unanimity as this, what a fine conformity would it 
starch us all into? Doubtless a staunch and solid piece of framework, 
as any January could freeze together. 
Nor much better will be the consequence even among the clergy 
themselves; it is no new thing never heard of before, for a parochial 
minister, who has his reward, and is at his Hercules pillars l07 in a 
warm benefice, to be easily inclinable, if he have nothing else that 
may rouse up his studies, to finish his circuie 08 in an English con- 
cordance and a topic folio/ 09 the gatherings and savings of a sober 
graduateship, a Harmony110 and a Catena/ 11 treading the constant 
round of certain common doctrinal heads, attended with their uses, 
motives, marks and means, out of which as out of an alphabet or sol 
fa by forming and transforming, joining and disjoining variously 
a little book-craft, and two hours meditation might furnish him un- 
speakably to the performance of more than a weekly charge of ser- 
moning: not to reckon up the infinite helps of interlinearies,112 brevi- 
aries,113 synopses,114 and other loitering gear. m But as for the multi- 
tude of sermons ready printed and piled up, on every text that is 
not difficult, our London trading St. Thomas in his vestry, and add 
to boot St. Martin and St. Hugh, have not within their hallowed 
limits more vendible ware of all sorts ready made :115 so that penury 
he never need fear of pulpit provision, having where so plenteously 
to refresh his magazine. But if his rear and flanks be not impaled,116 
if his back door be not secured by the rigid licenser, but that a bold 
book may now and then issue forth, and give the assault to some 
of his old collections in their trenches, it will concern him then to 
keep waking, to stand in watch, to set good guards and sentinels 
about his received opinions, ,to walk the round and counter-round 


107 Limit of his ambition, as the Straits of Gibraltar were the limits of the ancient 
world. 108 1. e., of studies. 109 Commonplace book. 110 E. g., of the Gospels. 
III Chain or list of authorities. 112 Translations. 113 Abridgments. 114 Lazy 
man's apparatus. 115 "I. e., our largest and busiest marts are as well stocked with 
sermons as with any other ware whatever:'-Hales. 116 Palisaded. 



220 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
with his fellow inspectors, fearing lest any of his flock be seduced, 
who also then would be better instructed, better exercised and di
 
ciplined. And God send that the fear of this diligence which must 
then be used, do not make us affect the laziness of a licensing church. 
For if we be sure we are in the right, and do not hold the truth 
guiltily, which becomes not, if we ourselves condemn not our own 
weak and frivolous teaching, and the people for an untaught and 
irreligious gadding rout, what can be more fair, than when a man 
judicious, learned, and of a conscience, for aught we know, as good 
as theirs that taught us what we know, shall not privily from house 
to house, which is more dangerous, but openly by writing publish to 
the world what his opinion is, what his reasons, and wherefore that 
which is now thought can not be sound. Christ urged it as where- 
with to justify himself, that he preached in public; yet writing is 
more public than preaching; and more easy to refutation, if need be, 
there being so many whose business and profession merely it is, to 
be the champions of truth; which if they neglect, what can be 
imputed but their sloth, or inability? 
Thus much we are hindered and disinured ll7 by this course of 
licensing toward the true knowledge of what we seem to know. For 
how much it hurts and hinders the licensers themselves in the calling 
of their ministry, more than any secular employment, if they will 
discharge that office as they ought, so that of necessity they must 
neglect either the one duty or the other, I insist not, because it is a 
particular, but leave it to their own conscience, how they will decide 
it there. 
There is yet behind of what I purposed to lay open, the incredible 
loss, and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to, more than 
if some enemy at sea should stop up all our havens and ports, and 
creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest mer- 
chandise, truth; nay it was first established and put into practise by 
antichristian malice and mystery1l8 on set purpose to extinguish, if 
it were possible, the light of Reformation, and to settle falsehood; 
little differing from that policy wherewith the Turk upholds his 
Alcoran, by the prohibition of printing. 'Tis not denied, but gladly 
confessed, we are to send our thanks and vows to heaven, louder 
117 Put out of practise. 118 Trickery. 



AREOP AGITICA 22 I 
than most of nations, for that great measure of truth which we enjoy, 
especially in those main points between us and the pope, with his ap- 
pUfìtenances the prelates: but he who thinks we are to pitch our tent 
here, and have attained the utmost prospect of reformation, that the 
mortal glass wherein we contemplate, can show us, till we come to 
beati fie vision, that man by this very opinion declares, that he is yet 
far short of truth. 
Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine master, 
and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he 
ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight 
arose a wicked race of deceivers, who as that story goes of the Egyp- 
tian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good 
Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thou- 
sand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time 
ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as dare appear, imitating 
the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, 
went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find 
them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor 
ever shall do, till her Master's second coming; he shall bring together 
every joint and member, and shall mold them into an immortal 
feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these licensing pro- 
hibitions to stand at every place of opportunity forbidding and dis- 
turbing them that continue seeking, that continue to do our obse- 
quies to the torn body of our martyred saint. We boast our light; 
but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness. 
Who can discern those planets that are oft Combust,119 and those 
stars of brightest magnitude that rise and set with the sun, until 
the opposite motion of their orbs bring them to such a place in the 
firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning. The light 
which we have gained, was given us, not to be ever staring on, but 
by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. 
It is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitering of a bishop, and 
the removing him from off the Presbyterian shoulders that will make 
us a happy nation, no, if other things as great in the church, and in 
the rule of life both economical and political be not looked into and 
reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and 
119 Within 8 Yz 0 of the sun. 



222 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
Calvin hath beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind. There be 
who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a 
calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. 'Tis their own 
pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will 
hear with meekness, nor can convince, yet all must be suppressed 
which is not found in their Syntagma}20 They are the troublers, 
they are the dividers of unity, who neglect and permit not others to 
unite those dissevered pieces which are yet wanting to the body of 
Truth. To be still searching what we know not, by what we know, 
still closing up truth to truth as we find it (for all her body is homo- 
geneal,121 and proportional) this is the golden rule in theology as 
well as in arithmetic, and makes up the best harmony in a church; 
not the forced and outward union of cold, and neutral, and inwardly 
divided minds. 
Lords and Commons of England, consider what nation it is 
whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors: a nation not slow 
and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to in- 
vent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any 
point the hißhest that human capacity can soar to. Therefore the 
studies of learning in her deepest sciences have been so ancient, and so 
eminent among us, that writers of good antiquity, and ablest judg- 
ment have been persuaded that even the school of Pythagoras, and 
the Persian wisdom took beginning from the old philosophy of this 
island. And that wise and civil 122 Roman, Julius Agricola, who gov- 
erned once here for Cæsar, preferred the natural wits of Britain, 
before the labored studies of the French. Nor is it for nothing that 
the grave and frugal Transilvanian sends out yearly from as far as 
the mountainous borders of Russia, and beyond the Hercynian 123 
wilderness, not their youth, but their staid men, to learn our lan- 
guage, and our theologic arts. Yet that which is above all this, the 
favor and the love of heaven we have great argument to think in a 
peculiar manner propitious and propending 124 toward us. Why else 
was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her as out of 
Sion should be proclaimed and sounded forth the first tidings and 
trumpet of Reformation to all Europe. And had it not been the 


120 Summary of doctrine. 121 All made up of truth. 122 Cultivated. 
123 Used of the German forests. 124 Inclinin
. 



AREOPAGITICA 223 
obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the divine and ad- 
mirable spirit of W yclif, to suppress him as a schismatic and inno- 
vator, perhaps neither the Bohemian Huss and Jerome, no nor the 
name of Luther, or of Calvin had been ever known: the glory of 
reforming all our neighbors had been completely ours. But now, 
as our obdurate clergy have with violence demeaned 125 the matter, 
we are become hitherto the latest and the backwardest scholars, of 
whom God offered to have made us the teachers. Now once again 
by all concurrence of signs, and by -the general instinct of holy and 
devout men, as they daily and solemnly express their thoughts, God 
is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his Church, 
even to the reforming of Reformation itself: what does he then but 
reveal Himself to his servants, and as his manner is, first to his Eng- 
lishmen; I say as his manner is, first to us, though we mark not the 
method of his counsels, and are unworthy. Behold now this vast 
city; a city of refuge, the mansion house of liberty, encompassed 
and surrounded with his protection; the shop of war hath not there 
more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates and in- 
struments of armed justice in defense of beleaguered truth, than 
there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, 
musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas wherewith to 
present, as with their homage and their fealty the approaching 
Reformation: others as fast reading, trying all things, assenting to 
the force of reason and convincement. What could a man require 
more from a nation so pliant and so prone to seek after knowledge. 
What wants there to such a towardly and pregnant soil, but wise and 
faithful laborers, to make a knowing people, a nation of prophets, 
of sages, and of worthies. We reckon more than five months yet to 
harvest; there need not be five weeks, had we but eyes to lift up, 
the fields are white already. Where there is much desire to learn, 
there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opin- 
ions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. 
Under these fantastic 126 terrors of sect and schism, we wrong the 
earnest and zealous thirst after knowledge and understanding which 
God hath stirred up in this city. What some lament of, we rather 
should rejoice at, should rather praise this pious forwardness among 
125 Conducted. 126 Imaginary. 



224 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
men, to reassume the ill deputed care of their religion into their 
own hands again. A little generous prudence, a little forbearance of 
one another, and some grain of charity might win all these diligences 
to join, and unite in one general and brotherly search after truth; 
could we but forego this prelatical tradition of crowding free con- 
sciences and Christian liberties into canons and precepts of men. I 
doubt not, if some great and worthy stranger should come among 
us, wise to discern the mold and temper of a people, and how to gov- 
ern it, observing the high hopes and aims, the diligent alacrity of 
our extended 127 thoughts and reasonings in the persuance of truth 
and freedom, but that he would cry out as Pyrrhus did, admiring the 
Roman docility and courage, if such were my Epirots, I would not 
despair the greatest design that could be attempted to make a church 
or kingdom happy . Yet these are the men cried out against for 
schismatics and sectarians; as if, while the temple of the Lord was 
building, some cutting, some squaring the marble, others hewing the 
cedars, there should be a sort of irrational men who could not con- 
sider there must be many schisms and many dissections made in the 
quarry and in the timber, ere the house of God can be built. And 
when every stone is laid artfully together, it can not be united into 
a continuity, it can but be contiguous in this world; neither can every 
piece of the building be of one form; nay rather the perfection con- 
sists in this, that out of many moderate varieties and brotherly dis- 
similitudes that are not vastly disproportional arises the goodly and 
the graceful symmetry that commends the whole pile and structure. 
Let us therefore be more considerate builders, more wise in spiritual 
architecture, when great reformation is expected. For now the time 
seems come, wherein Moses the great prophet may sit in heaven 
rejoicing to see that memorable and glorious wish of his fulfilled, 
when not only our seventy elders, but all the Lord's people are be- 
come prophets. No marvel then though some men, and some good 
men too perhaps, but young in goodness, as Joshua then was, envy 
them. They fret, and out of their own weakness are in agony, lest 
those divisions and subdivisions will undo us. The adversary again 
applauds, and waits the hour, when they have branched themselves 
out, saith he, small enough into parties and partitions, than will be 
127 Advanced. 



AREOP AGITICA 225 
our time. Fool! he sees not the firm root, out of which we all grow, 
though into branches: nor will beware until he sees our small divided 
maniples 128 cutting through at every angle of his ill united and un- 
wieldy brigade. And that we are to hope better of all these supposed 
sects and schisms, and that we shall not need that solicitude honest 
perhaps though over timorous of them that vex in his behalf, but 
shall laugh in the end, at those malicious applauders of our differ- 
ences, I have these reasons to persuade me. 
First when a city shall be as it were besieged and blocked about, 
her navigable river infested, inroads and incursions round, defiance 
and battle oft rumored to be marching up even to her walls, and 
suburb trenches, that then the people, or the greater part, more than 
at other times, wholly taken up with the study of highest and most 
important matters to be reformed, should be disputing, reasoning, 
reading, inventing, discoursing, even to a rarity/29 and admiration, 
things not before discoursed or written of, argues first a singular 
good will, contentedness and confidence in your prudent foresight, 
and safe government, Lords and Commons; and from thence de- 
rives itself130 to a gallant bravery ånd well grounded contempt of 
their enemies, as if there were no small number of as great spirits 
among us, as his was, who when Rome was nigh besieged by Han- 
nibal being in the city, bought that piece of ground at no cheap rate, 
whereon Hannibal himself encamped his own regiment. Next it is 
a lively and cheerful presage of our happy success and victory. For 
as in 13. body, when the blood is fresh, the spirits pure and vigorous, 
not only to vital, but to rational faculties, and those in the acutest, 
and the pertest 131 operations of wit and subtlety, it argues in what 
good plight and constitution the body is, so when the cheerfulness 
of the people is so sprightly up, as that it has, not only wherewith 
to guard well its own freedom and safety, but to spare, and to bestow 
upon the solidest and sublimest points of controversy, and new in- 
vention, it betoken us not degenerated, nor drooping to a fatal 
decay, but casting off the old and wrinkled skin of corruption to 
outlive these pangs and wax young again, entering the glorious ways 
of truth and prosperous virtue destined to become great and honor- 
able in these latter ages. Methinks I see in my mind a noble and 
128 Companies. 129 Rare degree. 130 Flows on. 131 Sprightliest. 



226 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and 
shaking her invincible locks: Methinks I see her as an eagle muing 132 
her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid- 
day beam; purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the 
fountain itself of heavenly radiance, while the whole noise 133 of 
timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, 
flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble 
would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms. 
What should ye do then, should ye suppress all this Bowery crop 
of knowledge and new light sprung up and yet springing daily in 
this city, should ye set an oligarchy of twenty ingrossers 134 over it, 
to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know noth- 
ing but what is measured to us by their bushel? Believe it, Lords 
and Commons, they who counsel ye to such a suppressing, do as 
good as bid ye suppress yourselves; and I will soon show how. If 
it be desired to know the immediate cause of all this free writing 
and free speaking, there can not be assigned a truer than your own 
mild, and free, and human government: it is the liberty, Lords and 
Commons, which your own valorous and happy counsels have pur- 
chased us, liberty which is the nurse of all great wits; this is that 
which hath rarified and enlightened our spirits like the influence of 
heaven; this is that which hath enfranchised, enlarged and lifted up 
our apprehensions degrees above themselves. Ye can not make us 
now less capable, less knowing, less eagerly pursuing of the truth, un- 
less ye first make yourselves, that made us so, less the lovers, 
less the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant again, 
brutish, formal, and slavish, as ye found us; but ye then must first 
become that which ye can not be, oppressive, arbitrary, and tyran- 
nous, as they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts 
are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the search 
and expectation of great and exact things, is the issue of your own 
virtue propagated in us; ye can not suppress that unless ye reinforce 
an abrogated and merciless law, that fathers may despatch at will 
their own children. And who shall then stick closest to ye, and ex... 
cite others? not he who takes up arms for cote and conduct/ 35 and his 


132 Renewing (by moulting). 133 Noisy band. 134 Monopolists. 
135 1. e., to resist illegal taxation for clothing and conveying troops. 



AREOP AGITICA 227 
four nobles of Danegelt. 136 Although I dispraise not the defense of 
just immunities, yet love my peace better, if that were all. Give me 
the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to 
conscience, above all liberties. 
What would be best advised then, if it be found so hurtful and 
so unequal to suppress opinions for the newness, or the unsuitable- 
ness to a customary acceptance, will not be my task to say; I only 
shall repeat what I have learned from one of your own honorable 
number, a right noble and pious lord, who had he not sacrificed his 
life and fortunes to the church and commonwealth, we had not 
now missed and bewailed a worthy and undoubted patron of this 
argument. Ye know him I am sure; yet I for honor's sake, and may it 
be eternal to him, shall name him, the Lord Brook. He writing of 
episcopacy, and by the way treating of sects and schisms, left ye his 
vote, or rather now the last wor-ds of his dying charge, which I 
know will ever be of dear and honored regard with ye, so full of 
meekness and breathing charity, that next to his last testament, who 
bequeathed love and peace to his disciples, I can not call to mind 
where I have read or heard words more mild and peaceful. He 
there exhorts us to hear with patience and humility those, however 
they be miscalled, that desire to live purely, in such a use of God's 
ordinances, as the best guidance of their conscience gives them, and 
to tolerate them, though in some disconformity to ourselves. The 
book itself will tell us more at large being published to the world, 
and dedicated to the Parliament by him who both for his life and 
for his death deserves, that what advice he left be not laid by with- 
out perusal. 
And now the time in special is, by privilege to write and speak 
what may help to the further discussion of matters in agitation. 
The temple of Janus with his two controversial faces might now 
not unsignificantly be set open. 137 And though all the winds of doc- 
trine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, 
we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her 
strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put 
to the worse, in a free and open encounter. Her confuting is the 
136 1. e., ship-money. The references here are to those who took up arms in the 
civil war rather than submit to the illegal taxes of Charles I. 
131{ndicating a time of war. 



228 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
best and surest suppressing. He who hears what praying there is 
for light and clearer knowledge to be sent down among us, would 
think of other matters to be constituted beyond the discipline of 
Geneva,t38 framed and fabricated already to our hands. Yet when 
the new light which we beg for shines in upon us, there be who 
envy, and oppose, if it come not first in at their casements. What a 
collusion is this, whenas we are exhorted by the wise man to use 
diligence, to seek for wisdom as for hidden treasures early and late, 
that another order shall enjoin us to know nothing but by statute. 
When a man hath been laboring the hardest labor in the deep mines 
of knowledge, hath furnished out his findings in all their equipage, 
drawn forth his reasons as it were a battle ranged, scattered and de- 
feated all objections in his way, calls out his adversary into the plain, 
offers him the advantage of wind and sun, if he please; only that 
he may try the matter by dint of argument, for his opponents then 
to skulk, to lay ambushments, to keep a narrow bridge of licensing 
where the challenger should pass, though it be valor enough in 
soldiership, is but weakness and cowardice in the wars of truth. 
For who knows not that truth is strong next to the Almighty; she 
needs no policies, no stratagems, no licensings to make her victori- 
ous, those are the shifts and the defenses that error uses against her 
power: give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps, for 
then she speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who spake oracles 
only when he was caught and bound, but then rather she turns 
herself into all shapes, except her own, and perhaps tunes her voice 
according to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, until she be 
adjured into her own likeness. Yet is it not impossible that she may 
have more shapes than one. What else is all that rank of things 
indifferent, wherein truth may be on this side, or on the other, 
without being unlike herself. What but a vain shadow else is the 
abolition of those ordinances, that handwriting nailed to the cross, 
what great purchase is this Christian liberty which Paul so often 
boasts of. His doctrine is, that he who eats or eats not, regards a 
day, or regards it not, may do either to the Lord. How many other 
things might be tolerated in peace, and left to conscience, had we 
but charity, and were it not the chief stronghold of our hypocrisy 
138 The Presbyterian system. 



AREOP AGITICA 229 
to be ever judging one another. I fear yet this iron yoke of outward 
conformity hath left a slavish print upon our necks; the ghost of a 
linen decency139 yet haunts us. We stumble and are impatient at 
the least dividing of one visible congregation from another, though 
it be not in fundamentals; and through our forwardness to suppress, 
and our backwardness to recover any enthralled piece of truth out of 
the grip of custom, we care not to keep truth separated from truth, 
which is the fiercest rent and disunion of all. We do not see that 
while we still affect by all means a rigid external formality, we may 
as soon fall again into a gross conforming stupidity, a stark and dead 
congealment of wood and hay and stubble forced and frozen to- 
gether, which is more to the sudden degenerating of a church than 
many subdichotomie/ 40 of petty schisms. Not that I can think well 
of every light separation, or that all in a church is to be expected gold 
and silver and precious stones: it is not possible for man to sever the 
wheat from the tares, the good fish from the other fry; that must be 
the angels' ministry at the end of mortal things. Yet if all can not be 
of one mind, as who looks they should be? this doubtless is more 
wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian that many be tol- 
erated, rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated popery, and 
open superstition, which as it extirpates all religions and civil su- 
premacies, so itself should be extirpated, provided first that all 
charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the 
weak and misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either 
against faith or manners no law can possibly permit, that intends 
not to unlaw itself: but those neighboring differences, or rather 
in differences, are what I speak of, whether in some point of doc- 
trine or of discipline, which though they may be many, yet need 
not interrupt the unity of spirit, if we could but find among us the 
bond of peace. In the meanwhile if anyone would write, and bring 
his helpful hand to the slow-moving reformation we labor under, if 
truth have spoken to him before others, or but seemed at least to 
speak, who hath so be-Jesuited 141 us that we should trouble that man 
with asking license to do so worthy a deed? and not consider this, 
that if it come to prohibiting, there is not aught more likely to be 
prohibited than truth itself; whose first appearance to our eyes 
139Priestly vestments. 140 Subdivisions. lU Made Jesuits of. 



23 0 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON 
bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly 
and unplausible than many errors, even as the person is of many a 
great man slight and contemptible to see to. And what do they tell 
us vainly of new opinions, when this very opinion of theirs, that 
none must be heard, but whom they like, is the worst and newest 
opinion of all others; and is the chief cause why sects and schisms 
do so much abound, and true knowledge is kept at distance from 
us; besides yet a greater danger which is in it. For when God shakes 
a kingdom with strong and healthful commotions to a general 
reforming, 'tis not untrue that many sectarians and false teachers 
are then busiest in seducing; but yet more true it is, that God then 
raises to his own work men of rare abilities, and more than common 
industry, not only to look back and revise what hath been taught 
heretofore, but to gain further and go on, some new enlightened 
steps in the discovery of truth. For such is the order of God's en- 
lightening his church, to dispense and deal out by degrees his beam, 
so as our earthly eyes may best sustain it. Neither is God appointed 
and confined, where and out of what place these his chosen shall be 
first heard to speak; for he sees not as man sees, chooses not as man 
chooses, lest we should devote ourselves again to set places, and 
assemblies, and outward callings of men; planting our faith one 
while in the old convocation house/ 42 and another while in the 
chapel at Westminster;143 when all the faith and religion that shall 
be there canonized,144 is not sufficient without plain convincement, 
and the charity of patient instruction to supple the least bruise of 
conscience, to edify the meanest Christian, who desires to walk in 
the spirit, and not in the letter of human trust, for all the number 
of voices that can be there made, no though Harry the Seventh 
himself there, with all his liege tombs 145 about him, should lend 
them voices from the dead, to swell their number. And if the men 
be erroneous who appear to be the leading schismatics, what with- 
holds us but our sloth, our self-will, and distrust in the right cause, 
that we do not give them gentle meetings and gentle dismissions, 
that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly with liberal 
and frequent audience; if not for -their sakes, yet for our own? see- 
ing no man who hath tasted learning, but will confess the many ways 
142 Where the Episcopal clergy met to legislate. 143 Where the Presbyterian divines 
drew up their Confession. 144 Put into canons or rules. 
145 In Westminster Abbey. 



AREOPAGITICA 231 
of profiting by those who not contented with stale receipts are able 
to manage, and set forth new positions to the world. And were 
they but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that notion 
they may serve to polish and brighten the armor of truth, even for 
that respect they were not utterly to be cast away. But if they be of 
those whom God hath fitted for the special use of these times with 
eminent and ample gifts, and those perhaps neither among the 
priests, nor among the Pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant 
zeal shall make no distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, 
because we fear they come with new and dangerous opinions, as we 
commonly forejudge them ere we understand them, no less than 
woe to us, while thinking thus to defend the gospel, we are found 
the persecutors. 
There have been not a few since the beginning of this Parliament,. 
both of the presbytery and others who by their unlicensed books to 
the contempt of an Imprimatur first broke that triple ice clung about 
our heans, and taught the people to see day: I hope that none of 
those were the persuaders to renew upon us this bondage which they 
themselves have wrought so much good by condemning. But if 
neither the check that Moses gave to young Joshua, nor the counter- 
mand which our Saviour gave to young John, who was so ready to 
prohibit those whom he thought unlicensed, be not enough to ad- 
monish our elders how unacceptable to God their testy mood of 
prohibiting is, if neither their own remembrance what evil hath 
abounded in the church by this lee 46 of licensing, and what good they 
themselves have begun by transgressing it, be not enough, but that 
they will persuade, and execute the most Dominican part of the 
Inquisition over us, and are already with one foot in the stirrup so 
active at suppressing, it would be no unequal distribution in the first 
place, to suppress the suppressors themselves; whom the change of 
their condition hath puffed up, more than their late experience of 
harder times hath made wise. 
And as for regulating the press, let no man think to have the 
honor of advising ye better than yourselves have done in that order 
published next before this, that no book be printed, unless the 
printer's and the author's name, or at least the printer's be regis- 
tered. Those which otherwise come forth, if they be found mis- 
146 Hindrance. 



23 2 A SPEECH OF J OH
 MILTON 
chievous and libelous, the fire and the executioner will be the time- 
liest and the most effectual remedy, that man's prevention can use. 
For this authentic Spanish policy of licensing books, if I have said 
aught will prove the most unlicensed book itself within a short 
while; and was the immediate image of a star-chamber decree to 
that purpose made in those very times when that court did the rest 
of those her pious works, for which she is now fallen from the stars 
with Lucifer. Whereby you may guess what kind of state prudence, 
what love of the people, what care of religion, or good manners there 
was at the contriving although with singular hypocrisy it pretended 
to bind books to their good behavior. And how it got the upper hand 
of your precedent order so well constituted before, if we may believe 
those men whose profession gives them cause to inquire most, it 
may be doubted there was in it the fraud of some old patentees and 
monopolizers in the trade of book-selling; who under pretence of 
the poor in their company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining 
of each man his several copy, which God forbid should be gainsaid, 
brought divers glozing colors 147 to the house, which were indeed 
but colors, and serving to no end except it be to exercise a superi- 
ority over their neighbors, men who do not therefore labor in an 
honest profession to which learning is indebted, that they should be 
made other men's vassals. Another end is thought was aimed at by 
some of them in procuring by petition this order, that having power 
in their hands, malignant 148 books might the easier escape abroad, 
as the event shows. But of these sophisms and elenchs of mer- 
chandise I skill not: 149 This I know, that errors in a good govern- 
ment and in a bad are equally almost incident;150 for what magistrate 
may not be misinformed, and much the sooner, if liberty of printing 
be reduced into the power of a few, but to redress willingly and 
speedily what hath been erred, and in highest authority to esteem a 
plain advertisement more than others have done a sumptuous bribe, 
is a virtue (honored Lords and Commons), answerable to 151 your 
highest actions, and whereof none can participate but greatest and 
wisest men. 
147 Plausible pretexts. 148 Royalist. 149 I have no knowledge of these tricks of 
trade and the exposure of them. 1M Liable to occur. 151 Consistent with. 



MIL TON'S 
TRACTATE ON EDUCATION 


FROM THE EDITION OF 1673 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 


MR. SAMUEL HARTLIB, to whom the following letter was addressed, 
was the son of a Polish merchant of German descent and an English 
mother. He lived in London during a large part of his life, and was 
actively interested in a vast number of educational and philanthropic 
schemes. It appears from the "Tractate" itself that he had requested 
Milton to put into writing some of the ideas on the education of a 
gentleman which they had from time to time touched on in conversation; 
and the present treatise is the result. 
Beginning with the definition of a "complete and generous education n 
as one "which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnan- 
imously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war,n 
Milton proceeds to lay down a program which is likely to startle the 
modern reader. The stress on Latin and Greek at the beginning is easily 
accounted for by the fact that in Milton's day these tongues were the 
only keys to the storehouse of learning; but the casual way in which 
Chaldean and Syrian are added to Hebrew seems to indicate that the 
author tended to overestimate the ease with which the ordinary youth 
acquires languages. But the mark of the system here expounded is that 
language is to be merely a means, not an end; that things and not words 
constitute the elements of education. Thus the Greek and Latin authors 
prescribed are chosen for the value of their subject matter, and provision 
is made for a comprehensive knowledge of the science of the time, as 
well as for training in religion and morals. The suggestions made for 
exercise have the same practical and utilitarian tendency, fencing, wres- 
tling, and horsemanship being prescribed with a view to soldiership. Nor 
are the arts neglected, for poetry and music are given their place both as 
recreation and as influences on character. 
This is indeed, as Milton confesses, "not a bow for every man to 
shoot in"; but as an ideal it is rich in both stimulus and practical 
suggestion. 



OF EDUCATION 


To Master Samuel Hartlib. 
Mr. Hartlib, 
l AM long since persuaded, that to say, or do aught worth mem- 
ory and imitation, no purpose or respect 1 should sooner move 
us, than simply the love of God, and of mankind. Neverthe- 
less to write now the reforming of education, though it be one of 
the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought on, and for the 
want whereof this nation perishes, I had not yet at this time been 
induced, but by your earnest entreaties, and serious conjurements;Z 
as having my mind for the present half diverted in the pursuance of 
some other assertions/ the knowledge and the use of which, can not 
but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of truth, and 
honest living, with much more peace. Nor should the laws of any 
private friendship have prevailed with me to divide thus, or trans- 
pose 4 my former thoughts, but that I see those aims, those actions 
which have won you with me the esteemS of a person sent hither by 
some good providence from a far country to be the occasion and 
the incitement of great good to this island. And, as I hear, you have 
obtained the same repute with men of most approved wisdom, and 
some of highest authority among us. Not to mention the learned 
correspondence which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordi- 
nary pains and diligence which you have used in this matter both 
here, and beyond the seas; either by the definite will of God so 
ruling, or the peculiar sway of nature, which also is God's working. 
Neither can I think that so reputed, and so valued as you are, you 
would to the forfeit of your own discerning ability, impose upon 
me an unfit and over-ponderous argument, but that the satisfaction 
which you profess to have received from those incidental discourses 


1 Consideration. 2 Appeals. 3 As, e. g., unlicensed printing and divorce. 
4 Change. 5 Reputation. 
235 



236 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
which we have wandered into, hath pressed and almost constrained 
you into a persuasion, that what you require from me in this point, 
I neither ought, nor can in conscience defer beyond this time both 
of so much need at once, and so much opportunity to try what God 
hath determined. I will not resist therefore, whatever it is either 
of divine, or human obligement that you lay upon me; but will 
forthwith set down in writing, .as you request me, that voluntary 
Idea, which hath long in silence presented itself to me, of a better 
education, in extent and comprehension far more large, and yet of 
time far shorter, and of attainment far more certain, than hath been 
yet in practise. 
Brief I shall endeavor to be; for that which I have to say, assuredly 
this nation hath extreme need should be done sooner than spoken. 
To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old re- 
nowned authors, I shall spare; and to search what many modern 
Janual and Didacticl more than ever I shall read, have projected, 
my inclination leads me not. But if you can accept of these few 
observations which have flowered off, and are, as it were, the bur- 
nishing 7 of many studious and contemplative years altogether spent 
in the search of religious and civil knowledge, and such as pleased 
you so well in the relating, I here give you them to dispose of. 
The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents 
by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love 
him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by pos- 
sessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly 
grace of faith makes up the highest perfection. But because our 
understanding can not in this body found itself but on sensible 8 
things, nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things 
invisible, as by orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature, 
the same method is necessarily to be followed in all discreet teach- 
ing. And seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition 
enough for all kind of learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the 
languages of those people who have at any time been most indus- 
trious after wisdom; so that language is but the instrument convey- 
ing to us things useful to be known. And though a linguist should 
6 Works on education by John Amos Comenius, a great educational reformer and 
a friend of Hartlib's. 
7 Fragments rubbed off in polishing. 8 Perceived by the senses. 



OF EDUCATION 237 
pride himself to have all the tongues that Babel cleft the world into, 
yet if he have not studied the solid things in them as well as the 
words and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be esteemed a 
learned man, as any yoeman or tradesman competently wise in his 
mother dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have 
made learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful; first we 
do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together 
so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learned other wise 
easily and delightfully in one year. And that which casts our pro- 
ficiency therein so much behind, is our time lost partly in too oft 
idle vacancies 9 given both to schools and universities, partly in a 
preposterous lO exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to com- 
pose themes, verses and orations, which are the acts of ripest judg- 
ment and the final work of a head filled by long reading and observ- 
ing, with elegant maxims, and copious invention. These are not 
matters to .be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the nose, 
or the plucking of untimely fruit: besides the ill habit which they 
get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom, with 
their untutored Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided 
without a well continued and judicious conversing U among pure 
authors digested, which they scarce taste, whereas, if after some 
preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into mem- 
ory, they were led to the praxis 12 thereof in some chosen short books 
lessoned throughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to 
learn the substance of good things, and arts in due order, which 
would bring the whole language quickly into their power. This I 
take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning 
languages, and whereby we may best hope to give account to God 
of our youth spent herein: and for the usual method of teaching arts, 
I deem it to be an old error of universities not yet well recovered 
from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that instead of 
beginning with arts most easy, and those be such as are most obvious 
to the sense, they present their young unmatriculated novices at first 
coming with the most intellective 13 abstractions of logic and meta- 
physics; so that they having but newly left those grammatic flats 


9 Holidays. 10 Lit., in inverted order. 11 Familiar intercourse. 
12 Practical application. 13 Intellectual. 



238 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
and shallows where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words 
with lamentable construction, and now on the sudden transported 
under another climate to be tossed and turmoiled with their unbal- 
lasted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for 
the most part grow into hatred and contempt of learning, mocked 
and deluded all this while with ragged notions and babblements, 
while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge; till poverty 
or youthful years call them importunately their several ways, and 
hasten them with the sway14 of friends either to an ambitious and 
mercenary, or ignorantly zealous divinity; some allured to the trade 
of law, grounding their purposes not on the prudent and heavenly 
contemplation of justice and equity which was never taught them, 
but on the promising and pleasing thoughts of litigious terms, fat 
contentions and flowing fees; others betake them to State affairs, 
with souls so unprincipled in virtue and true generous breeding, that 
flattery, and court shifts 15 and tyrannous aphorisms appear to them 
the highest points of wisdom; instilling their barren hearts with a 
conscientious slavery;6 if, as I rather think, it be not feigned. Others 
lastly of a more delicious and airy spirit,17 retire themselves knowing 
no better, to the enjoyments of ease and luxury, living out their days 
in feast and jollity; which indeed is the wisest and the safest course 
of all these, unless they were with more integrity undertaken. And 
these are the fruits of misspending our prime youth at the schools 
and universities as we do, either in learning mere words or such 
things chiefly, as were better unlearned. 
I shall detain you no longer in the demonstration of what we 
should not do, but straight conduct ye to a hill side where I will 
point ye out the right path of a virtuous and noble education; labori- 
ous indeed at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so full 
of goodly prospect, and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp 
of Orplzeui 8 was not more charming. I doubt not but ye shall have 
more ado to drive our dullest and laziest youth, our stocks and stubs 
from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture, than we have not to 
hale and drag our choicest and hopefulest wits to that asinine feast 
of sowthistles and brambles which is commonly set before them, as 


14 Influence. 15 Tricks. 16 A slavery which they try to believe conscientious. 
17 Delicate and spiritual nature. 18 Which charmed even trees and stones. 



OF EDUCATION 239 
all ,the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most docible 19 
age. I call therefore a complete and generous education that which 
fits a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously all the 
offices both private and public, of peace and war. And how all this 
may be done between twelve, and one and twenty, less time than 
is now bestowed in pure trifling at grammar and sophistry, is to be 
thus ordered. 
First to find out a spacious house and ground about it fit for an 
academy, and big enough to lodge a hundred and fifty persons, 
whereof twenty or thereabout may be attendants, all under the gov- 
ernment of one, who shall be thought of desert sufficient, and ability 
either to do all, or wisely to direct, and oversee it done. This place 
should be at once both school and university, not heeding a remove 
to any other house of scholarship, except it be some peculiar College 
of Law, or Physic, where they mean to be practitioners; but as for 
those general studies which take up all our time from Lilly20 to the 
commencing,21 as they term it, Master of Art, it should be absolute. 
After this pattern, as many Edifices may be converted to this use, 
as shall be needful in every city throughout this land, which would 
tend much to the increase of learning and civility everywhere. This 
number, less or more thus collected, to the convenience of a foot 
company, or interchangeably two troops of cavalry, should divide 
their day's work into three parts, as it lies orderly. Their studies, 
their exercise, and their diet. 
For the studies, first they should begin with the chief and neces- 
sary rules of some good grammar, either that now used, or any 
better: and while this is doing, their speech is to be fashioned to a 
distinct and clear pronunciation, as near as may be to the Italian, 
especially in the vowels. For we Englishmen being far northerly, do 
not open our mouths in the cold air, wide enough to grace a southern 
tongue; but are observed by all other nations to speak exceeding close 
and inward: So that to smatter Latin with an English mouth, is as 
ill a hearing as Law-French. Next to make them expert in the use- 
fulest points of grammar, and withal to season 22 them, and win them 
early to the love of virtue and true labor, ere any flattering seduce- 
ment, or vain principle seize them wandering, some easy and delight.. 
19 Docile. 20 Lilly's "Latin Primer." 21 Graduation. 22 Imbue. 



240 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
ful book of education would be read to them; whereof the Greeks 
have store, as Cebes,23 Plutarch/ 4 and other Socratic discourses. But 
in Latin we have none of classic authority extant, except the two or 
three first books of Quintilian,25 and some select pieces elsewhere. 
But here the main skill and groundwork will be, to temper 26 them 
such lectures and explanations upon every opportunity as may lead 
and draw them in willing obedience, inflamed with the study of 
learning, and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of 
living to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and 
famous to all ages. That they may despise and scorn all their child- 
ish, and ill-taught qualities, to delight in manly, and liberal exer- 
cises: which he who hath the art, and proper eloquence to catch them 
with, what with mild and effectual persuasions, and what with the 
intimation of some fear, if need be, but chiefly by his own example, 
might in a short space gain them to an incredible diligence and cour- 
age: infusing into their young breasts such an ingenuous and noble 
ardor, as would not fail to make many of them renowned and 
matchless men. At the same time, some other hour of the day, might 
be taught them the rules of arithmetic, and soon after the elements 
of geometry even playing, as the old manner was. After evening 
repast, till bed-time their thoughts will be best taken up in the easy 
grounds of religion, and the story of Scripture. The next step would 
be to the authors on agriculture, Cato, Varro, and Columella, for the 
matter is most easy, and if the language be difficult, so much the 
better, it is not a difficulty above their years. And here will be an 
occasion of inciting and enabling them hereafter to improve the 
tillage of their country, to recover the bad soil, and to remedy the 
waste that is made of good; for this was one of Hercules' praises. 
Ere half these authors be read (which will soon be with plying27 
hard, and daily) they can not choose but be masters of any ordi- 
nary prose. 28 So that it will be then season'able for them to learn 
in any modern author, the use of the globes, and all the maps; first 
with ,the old names, and then with the new: or they might be then 
capable to read any compendious method of natural philosophy. 
23 A disciple of Socrates, to whom was ascribed a book on the cultivation of virtue. 
24. Author of the famous "Lives." He lived about 100 A.D. 25 The Latin 
rhetorician, b. 42 h.D. 26 Adept. 21 Applying themselves. 28 1. e., Latin prose. 



OF EDUCATION 


24 1 


And at the same time might be entering into the Greek tongue, 
after the same manner as was before prescribed in the Latin: where- 
by the difficulties of grammar being soon overcome, aU the historical 
physiology of Aristotle and T heophrastu.r 9 are open before them, 
and as I may say, under contribution. The like access will be to 
Vitruvius,30 to Seneca's natural questions,31 to Mela,32 Celsus,33 
Pliny,34 or Solinus. 35 And having thus passed the principles of 
arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and geography with a general 
compact of physics, they may descend in mathematics to the instru- 
mental science of trigonometry and from thence to fortification, 
architecture, engineering, or navigation. And in natural philosophy 
they may proceed leisurely from the history of meteors, minerals, 
plants and living creatures as far as anatomy. Then also in course 
might be read to them out of some not tedious writer the institution 
of physic; that they may know the tempers,36 the humors,36 the 
seasons, and how to manage a crudity;37 which he who can wisely 
and timely do, is not only a great physician to himself, and to his 
friends, but also may at some time or other, save an army by this 
frugal and expenseless means only; and not let the healthy and stout 
bodies of young men rot away under him for want of this disci- 
pline; which is a great pity, and no less a shame to the commander. 
To set forward all these proceedings in nature and mathematics, 
what hinders, but that they may procure, as often as shall be need
 
ful, the helpful experiences of hunters, fowlers, fishermen, shep- 
herds, gardeners, apothecaries; and in the other sciences, architects, 
engineers, mariners, anatomists; who doubtless would be ready some 
for reward, and some to favor such a hopeful seminary. And this 
will give them such a real tincture of natural knowledge, as they 
shall never forget, but daily augment with delight. Then also those 
poets which are now counted most hard, will be both facile and 
pleasant, Orpheus, Hesiod, Theocritus, Aratus, Nicander, Oppian, 
Dionysius, and in Latin Lucretius, Manilius, and the rural part of 
Virgil. 
29 A pupil of Aristotle's. 30 On architecture. 31 On physics. 32 On geography. 
33 On medicine. 34 On natural history. 3S An abridgement of Pliny. 
36 The temperament was supposed to be due to the predominance of one of the 
four humors in the body. 37 Indigestion. 



242 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
By this time, years and good general precepts will have furnished 
them more distinctly with that act of reason which in ethics is 
called proairesis 38 that they may with some judgment contemplate 
upon moral good and evil. Then will be required a special reenforce- 
ment of constant and sound indoctrinating to set them right and 
firm, instructing them more amply in the knowledge of virtue and 
the hatred of vice: while their young and pliant affections are led 
through all the moral works of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero, Plutarch, 
Laertiul g and those Locrian remnants;40 but still to be reduced 41 in 
their nightward studies wherewith they close the day's work, under 
the determinate 42 sentence of David or Solomon, or the evanges 43 
and apostolic scriptures. Being perfect in the knowledge of per- 
sonal duty, they may then begin the study of economics. And either 
now, or before this, they may have easily learned at any odd hour 
the Italian tongue. And soon after, but with wariness and good 
antidote, it would be wholesome enough to let them taste some 
choice comedies, Greek, Latin, or Italian: Those tragedies also that 
treat of household matters, as T rachiniæ,"4 Alcestis 45 and the like. 
The next remove must be to the study of politics; to know the 
beginning, end, and reasons of political societies; that they may not 
in a dangerous fit of the commonwealth be such poor, slÌaken, un- 
certain reeds, of such a tottering conscience, as many of our great 
counselors have lately shown themselves, but steadfast pillars of the 
state. After this they are to dive into the ground of law and legal 
justice; delivered first, and with best warrant by Moses; and as far 
as human prudence can be trusted, in those extolled remains of 
Grecian lawgivers, Lycurgus, Solon, Zaleucus, Charondas,46 and 
thence to all the Roman edicts and tables with their Justinian; and 
so down to the Saxon and common laws of England, and the stat- 
utes. Sundays also and every evening may be now understand- 
ingly spent in the highest matters of theology, and church history 
ancient and modern: and ere this time the Hebrew tongue at a set 
hour might have been gained, that the Scriptures may be now read 
in their own original; whereto it would be no impossibility to add 
38 The choice between good and evil. 39 Diogenes Laertius, who wrote a history 
of philosophy. 40 Ascribed to Timæus. 41 Brought back. 42 Authoritative. 
43 Gospels. <<By Sophocles. 45 By Euripides. 46 Lawgivers respectively to 
Sparta, Athens, the Locrians in southern Italy, and certain cities in Sicily. 



OF EDUCATION 243 
the Chaldey,47 and the Syrian 48 dialect. When all these employments 
are well conquered, then will the choice histories, heroic poems, and 
Attic tragedies of stateliest and most regal argument, with all the 
famous political orations offer themselves; which if they were not 
only read; but some of them got by memory, and solemnly pro- 
nounced with right accent, and grace, as might be taught, would 
endow them even with the spirit and vigor of Demosthenes, or 
Cicero, Euripides, or Sophocles. And now lastly will be the time to 
read with them those organic 49 arts which enable men to discourse 
and write perspicuously, elegantly, and according to the fitted style 
of lofty, mean or lowly. Logic therefore so much as is useful, is to 
be referred to this due place with all her well couched 50 heads and 
topics, until to be time to open her contracted palm into a graceful 
and ornate rhetoric taught out of the rule of Plato, Aristotle, Phale- 
reus, Cicero, Hermogenes, Longinus. To which poetry would be 
made subsequent, or indeed rather precedent, as being less subtle 
and fine, but more simple, sensuous and passionate. I mean not 
here the prosody of a verse, which they could not have hit on before 
among the rudiments of grammar; but that sublime art which in 
Aristotle's Poetics, in Horace, and the Italian commentaries of 
Casteltletro, Tasso, Mazzoni, and others, teaches what the laws are 
of a true epic poem, what of a dramatic, what of a lyric, what de- 
corum is, which is the grand masterpiece to observe. This would 
make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our common 
rimers and playwriters be, and show them, what religious, what 
glorious and magnificent use might be made of poetry both in di- 
vine and human things. Prom hence and not till now will be the 
right season of forming them to be able writers and composers in 
every excellent matter, when they shall be thus fraught with an uni- 
versal insight into things. Or whether they be to speak in Parlia- 
ment or council, honor and attention would be waiting on their 
lips. There would then also appear in pulpits other visages, other 
gestures, and stuff otherwise wrought ,than what we now sit under, 
ofttimes to as great a trial of our patience as any other that they 
preach to us. These are the studies wherein our noble and our gentle 


47 Chaldean, a language akin to Hebrew. 48 Aramaic, the language of Palestine 
in the time of Christ. 49 Practical. 50 Arranged. 



244 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
youth ought to bestow their time in a disciplinary way from twelve 
to one and twenty; unless they rely more upon their ancestors dead, 
than upon themselves living. In which methodical course it is so 
supposed they must proceed by the steady pace of learning onward, 
as at convenient times for memories' sake to retire back into the 
middle ward,51 and sometimes into the rear of what they have been 
taught, until they have confirmed, and solidly united the whole 
body of their perfected knowledge, like the last embattling of a 
Roman legion. Now will be worth -the seeing what exercises and 
recreations may best agree, and become these studies. 
Their Exercise. 
The course of study hitherto briefly described, is, what I can guess 
by reading, likest to those ancient and famous schools of Pythagoras, 
Plato, [socrates, Aristotle and such others, out of which were bred 
up such a number of renowned philosophers, orators, historians, 
poets and princes all over Greece, Italy, and Asia, besides the flour- 
ishing studies of Cyrene and Alexandria. But herein it shall exceed 
them, and supply a defect as great as that which Plato noted in the 
commonwealth of Sparta, whereas that city trained up their youth 
most for war, and these in their Academies and Lycæum, all for 
the gown,52 this institution of breeding which I here delineate, shall 
be equally good both for peace and war. Therefore about an hour 
and a half ere they eat at noon should be allowed them for exercise 
and due rest afterward: but the time for this may be enlarged at 
pleasure, according as their rising in the morning shall be early. 
The exercise which I commend first, is the exact use of their weapon, 
to guard and to strike safely with edge, or point; this will keep 
them healthy, nimble, strong, and well in breath, is also the likeliest 
means to make them grow large and tall, and to inspire them with 
a gallant and fearless courage, which being tempered with season. 
able lectures and precepts to them of true fortitude and patience, 
will turn into a native and heroic valor, and make them hate the 
cowardice of doing wrong. They must be also practised in all the 
locks and grips of wrestling, wherein Englishmen were wont to 
excel, as need may often be in fight to tug or grapple, and to close. 
51 Center. 52 Civil life. 



OF EDUCATION 245 
And this perhaps will be enough, wherein to prove and heat their 
single strength. The interim of unsweating 53 themselves regularly, 
and convenient rest before meat may both with profit and delight 
be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed 54 spirits with 
the solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learned; either 
while the skilful organist plies Ilis grave and fancied descant, in 
lofty fugues, or the whole symphony with artful and unimaginable 
touches adorn and grace the well studied chords of some choice 
composer, sometimes the lute, or soft organ stop waiting on elegant 
voices either to religious, martial, or civil ditties; which if wise men 
and prophets be not extremely out,55 have a great power over dis- 
positions and manners, to smooth and make them gentle from rustic 
harshness and distempered passions. The like also would not be 
unexpedient after meat to assist and cherish Nature in her first 
concoction,56 and send their minds back to study in good tune and 
satisfaction. Where having followed it closer under vigilant eyes till 
about two hours before supper, they are by a sudden alarum or 
watchword, to be called out to their military motions, under sky or 
covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont: first on 
foot, then as their age permits, on horseback, to all the art of cav- 
alry; that having in sport, but with much exactness, and daily mus. 
ter, served out the rudiments of their soldiership in all the skill of 
embattling, marching, encamping, fortifying, besieging and batter- 
ing, with all the helps of ancient and modern stratagems, tactics 
and warlike maxims, they may as it were out of a long war come 
forth renowned and perfect commanders in the service of their 
country. They would not then, if they were trusted with fair and 
hopeful armies, suffer them for want of just and wise discipline to 
shed away from about them like sick feathers, though they never 
so oft supplied: they would not suffer their empty and unrecruit- 
able 57 colonels of twenty men in a company to quaff out,58 or con- 
vey,59 into secret hoards, the wages of a delusive list, and a miserable 
remnant: yet in the meanwhile to be overmastered with a score 
or two of drunkards, the only soldiery left about them, or else to 
comply with all rapines and violences. No certainly, if they knew 


53 Cooling off. 54 Tired with exercise. 55 Mistaken. 56 Digestion. 
57 Unable to enlist recruits. 58 Spend in drinking. 59 Steal. 



246 TRACTATE OF JOHN MILTON 
aught of that knowledge that belongs to good men or good gover- 
nors, they would not suffer these things. But to return to our own 
institute, besides these constant exercises at home, there is another 
opportunity of gaining experience to be won from pleasure itself 
abroad; in those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm 
and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to 
go out, and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven 
and earth. I should not therefore be a persuader to them of studying 
much then, after two or three years that they have well laid their 
grounds, but to ride out in companies with prudent and staid guides, 
to all the quarters of the land: learning and observing all places of 
strength, all commodities 60 of building and of soil, for towns and 
tillage, harbors and ports for trade. Sometimes taking sea as far as 
to our navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical knowl- 
edge of sailing and of sea-fight. These ways would try all their pe- 
culiar gifts of nature, and if there were any secret excellence among 
them, would fetch it out, and give it fair opportunities to advance 
itself by, which could not but mightily redound to the good of this 
nation, and bring into fashion again those old admired virtues and 
excellencies, with far more advantage now in this purity of Christian 
knowledge. Nor shall we then need the monsieurs of Paris, to take 
our hopeful youth into their slight 61 and prodigal custodies and send 
them over back again transformed into mimics, apes, and kick- 
shaws. But if they desire to see other countries at three or four 
and twenty years of age, not to learn principles but to enlarge ex- 
perience, and make wise dbservation, they will by that time be such 
as shall deserve the regard and honor of all men where they pass, 
and the society and friendship of those in all places who are best 
and most eminent. And perhaps then other nations will be glad to 
visit us for their breeding, or else to imitate us in their own country. 
Now lastly for their diet there can not be much to say, save only 
that it would be best in the same house; for much time else would 
be lost abroad, and many ill habits got; and that it should be plain, 
healthful, and moderate I suppose is out of controversy. Thus Mr. 
Hartlib, you have a general view in writing, as your desire was, of 
that which at several times I had discoursed with you concerning 
60 Advantages. 61 Evil. 



OF EDUCATION 247 
the best and noblest way of education; not beginning as some have 
done from the cradle, which yet might be worth many considera- 
tions, if brevity had not been my scope, many other circumstances 
also I could have mentioned, but this to such as have the worth in 
them to make trial, for light and direction may be enough. Only 
I believe that this is not a bow for every man to shoot in that counts 
himself a teacher; but will require sinews almost equal to those 
which Homer gave Ulysses, yet I am withal persuaded that it may 
prove much more easy in the assay,62 than it now seems at distance, 
and much more illustrious: howbeit not more difficult than I im- 
agine, and that imagination presents me with nothing but very 
happy and very possible according to best wishes; if God have so 
decreed, and this age have spirit and capacity enough to apprehend. 


62 Attempt. 




RELIGIO MEDICI 


BY 
SIR mOMAS BROWNE 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 


SIR THOMAS BROWNE was born in London on October 19, 1605, edu- 
cated at Winchester and Oxford, and trained for the practise of medicine. 
After traveling on the Continent he finally settled as a physician in 
Norwich, and enjoyed a distinguished professional reputation. Later he 
became equally famous as a scholar and antiquary, and was knighted 
by Charles II on the occasion of the King's visit to Norwich in 16 71. 
In 16 4 1 he married, and he was survived by four of his ten children. 
He died on his seventy-seventh birthday. 
His "Religio Medici" seems to have been written about 16 35, without 
being intended for publication. In 1642, however, two surreptitious 
editions appeared, and he was induced by the inaccuracies of these to 
issue an authorized edition in 1643. Since that time between thirty and 
fony editions have appeared, and the work has been translated into 
Latin, Dutch, French, German, and Italian. Of his other works the most 
famous are "Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into Vulgar Errors" 
( 16 4 6 ), a treatise of vast learning and much entertainment; "Hydrio- 
taphia, or Urn Burial," a discourse on burial customs, which closes with 
a chapter on death and immortality, the majestic eloquence of which 
places Browne in the first rank of writers of English prose; and "The 
Garden of Cyrus," a fantastic account of horticulture from the Garden 
of Eden down to the time of Cyrus, King of Persia, with much dis- 
cussion on the mystical significations of the number five. His miscel- 
laneous writings cover a great variety of subjects, religious, scientific, 
and antiquarian. 
The "Religio Medici" is an excellent typical example of the author's 
style. At once obscured and enriched by his individual and sometimes 
far-fetched vocabulary, his full and sonorous periods remain the delight 
of readers with an ear for the cadences of English prose. The matter of 
the book also reveals a personality of great charm and humor, a mind 
at once surprisingly acute and surprisingly credulous, and a character 
of an exalted nobility. 



TO THE READER 


CERTAINLY that man were greedy of Life, who should desire to live 
when all the world were at an end; and he must needs be very impatient, 
who would repine at death in the society of all things that suffer under it. 
Had not almost every man suffered by the Press, or were not the tyranny 
thereof become universal, I had not wanted reason for complaint: but in 
times wherein I have lived to behold the highest perversion of that ex- 
cellent invention, the name of his Majesty defamed, the Honour of 
Parliament depraved, the Writings of both depravedly, anticipatively, 
counterfeitly imprinted; complaints may seem ridiculous in private per- 
sons; and men of my condition may be as incapable of affronts, as hope- 
less of their reparations. And truely, had not the duty I owe unto the 
importunity of friends, and the allegiance I must ever acknowledge unto 
truth, prevailed with me, the inactivity of my disposition might have 
made these sufferings continual, and time, that brings other things to 
light, should have satisfied me in the remedy of its oblivion. But because 
things evidently false are not onely printed, but many things of truth 
most falsly set forth, in this latter I could not but think my self engaged: 
for, though we have no power to redress the former, yet in the other the 
reparation being within our selves, I have at present represented unto 
the world a full and intended Copy of that Piece, which was most im- 
perfectly and surreptitiously published before. 
This, I confess, about seven years past, with some others of affinity 
thereto, for my private exercise and satisfaction, I had at leisurable hours 
composed; which being communicated unto one, it became common 
unto many, and was by Transcription successively corrupted, untill it 
arrived in a most depraved Copy at the Press. He that shall peruse that 
work, and shall take notice of sundry particularities and personal ex- 
pressions therein, wíll easily discern the intention was not publick; and, 
being a private Exercise directed to my self, what is delivered therein, 
was rather a memorial unto me, than an Example or Rule unto any 
other; and therefore, if there be any singularity therein correspondent 
unto the private conceptions of any man, it doth not advantage them; 
or if dissentaneous 1 thereunto, it no way overthrows them. It was penned 
in such a place, and with such disadvantage, that, (I protest,) from the 
first setting of pen unto paper, I had not the assistance of any good Book 
whereby to promote my invention or relieve my memory; and there- 
1 Not in accordance. 
25 1 



252 TO THE READER 
fore there might be many real lapses therein, which others might take 
notice of, and more that I suspected my self. It was set down many years 
past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an immutable 
Law unto my advancing judgement at all times; and therefore there 
might be many things therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, 
which are not agreeable unto my present self. There are many things 
delivered Rhetorically, many expressions therein meerly Tropical, and as 
they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many 
things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto 
the rigid test of Reason. Lastly, all that is contained therein is in sub- 
mission unto maturer discernments; and, as I have declared, shall no 
further father them than the best and learned judgments shall authorize 
them: under favour of which considerations I have made its secrecy 
publick, and committed the truth thereof to every Ingenuous Reader. 
THO. BROWNE. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 


THE FIRST PART 


F OR my Religion, though there be several Circumstances that 
might perswade the W orId I have none at all, (as the general 
scandal of my Profession,2 the natural course of my Studies, 
the indifferency of my Behaviour and Discourse in matters of Re- 
ligion, neither violently Defending one, nor with that common ar- 
dour and contention Opposing another;) yet, in despight hereof, I 
dare without usurpation assume the honourable Stile of a Christian. 
Not that I meerly owe this Title to the Font, my Education, or the 
clime wherein I was born, (as being bred up either to confirm those 
Principles my Parents instilled into my unwary Understanding, or 
by a general consent proceed in the Religion of my Country;) but 
having in my riper years and confirmed Judgment seen and exam- 
ined all, I find my self obliged by the Principles of Grace, and the 
Law of mine own Reason, to embrace no other Name but this. 
Neither doth herein my zeal so far make me forget the general 
Charity I owe unto Humanity, as rather to hate than pity Turks, 
Infidels, and (what is worse,) Jews; rather contenting my self to 
enjoy that happy Stile, than maligning those who refuse so glorious 
a Title. 
II. But, because the Name of a Christian is become too general 
to express our Faith, (there being a Geography of Religions as well 
as Lands, and every Clime distinguished not only by their Laws and 
Limits, but circumscribed by their Doctrines and Rules of Faith;) 
to be particular, I am of that Reformed new-cast Religion, wherein 
I dislike nothing but the Name; of the same belief our Saviour 
taught, the Apostles disseminated, the Fathers authorized, and the 
Martyrs confirmed; but by the sinister ends of Princes, the ambi- 
tion and avarice of Prelates, and the fatal corruption of times, so 
2 ct. the saying, "Among three physicians, two atheists." 
253 



254 THOMAS BROWNE 
decayed, impaired, and fallen from its native Beauty, that it required 
the careful and charitable hands of these times to restore it to its 
primitive Integrity. Now the accidental occasion whereupon, the 
slender means whereby, the low and abject condition of the Person 3 
by whom so good a work was set on foot, which in our Adver- 
saries beget contempt and scorn, fills me with wonder, and is the 
very same Objection the insolent Pagans first cast at CHRIST and 
His Disciples. 
III. Yet have I not so shaken hands with those desperate Reso- 
lutions,4 (who had rather venture at large their decayed bottom, than 
bring her in to be new trimm'd in the Dock; who had rather pro- 
miscuously retain all, than abridge any, and obstinately be what 
they are, than what they have been,) as to stand in Diameter 5 and 
Swords point with them. We have reformed from them, not against 
them; for (omitting those Improperations 6 and Terms of Scurrility 
betwixt us, which only difference our Affections, and not our 
Cause,) there is between us one common Name and Appellation, 
one Faith and necessary body of Principles common to us both; 
and therefore I am not scrupulous to converse and live with them, to 
enter their Churches in defect of ours, and either pray with them, 
or for them. I could never perceive any rational Consequence from 
those many Texts which prohibit the Children of Israel to pollute 
themselves with the Temples of the Heathens; we being all Chris- 
tians, and not divided by such detested impieties as might prophane 
our Prayers, or the place wherein we make them; or that a resolved 
Conscience may not adore her Creator any where, especially in 
places devoted to His Service; where, if their Devotions offend Him, 
mine may please Him; if theirs prophane it, mine may hallow it. 
Holy-water and Crucifix (dangerous to common people,) deceive 
not my judgment, nor abuse my devotion at all. I am, I confess, 
naturally inclined to that which misguided Zeal terms Superstition. 
My common conversation 7 I do acknowledge austere, my behaviour 
full of rigour, sometimes not without morosity; yet at my Devotion 
I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and hand, with all 
those outward and sensible motions which may express or promote 


3 Probably Luther is meant. 4 Persons who have resolved. 5 Direct opposition. 
6 Taunts. 7 Manner of life. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 255 
my invisible Devotion. I should violate my own arm rather than 
a Church; nor willingly deface the name of Saint or Martyr. At the 
sight of a Cross or Crucifix I can dispense with my hat, but scarce 
with the thought or memory of my Saviour. I cannot laugh at, 
but rather pity, the fruitless journeys of Pilgrims, or contemn the 
miserable condition of Pryars; for, though misplaced in Circum- 
stances, there is something in it of Devotion. I could never hear the 
Ave-Mary Bell without an elevation; or think it a sufficient war- 
rant, because they erred in one circumstance, for me to err in all, 
that is, in silence and dumb contempt. Whilst, therefore, they 
directed their Devotions to Her, I offered mine to GOD, and rectified 
the Errors of their Prayers by rightly ordering mine own. At a 
solemn Procession I have wept abundantly, while my consorts, blind 
with opposition and prejudice, have fallen into an excess of scorn 
and laughter. There are, questionless, both in Greek, Roman, and 
African Churches, Solemnities and Ceremonies, whereof the wiser 
Zeals do make a Christian use, and stand condemned by us, not as 
evil in themselves, but as allurements and baits of superstition to 
those vulgar heads that look asquint on the face of Truth, and those 
unstable Judgments that cannot consist in the narrow point and 
centre of Virtue without a reel or stagger to the Circumference. 
IV. As there were many Reformers, so likewise many Reforma- 
tions; every Country proceeding in a particular way and method, 
according as their national Interest, together with their Constitution 
and Clime, inclined them; some angrily, and with extremity; others 
calmly, and with mediocrity; not rending, but easily dividing the 
community, and leaving an honest possibility of a reconciliation; 
which though peaceable Spirits do desire, and may conceive that 
revolution of time and the mercies of GOD may effect, yet that 
judgment that shall consider the present antipathies between the 
two extreams, their contrarieties in condition, affection, and opin- 
ion, may with the same hopes expect an union in the Poles of 
Heaven. 
V. But (to difference my self nearer, and draw into a lesser Cir- 
cle,) there is no Church whose every part so squares unto my Con- 
science; whose Articles, Constitutions, and Customs seem so conso- 
nant unto reason, and as it were framed to my particular Devotion, 



256 THOMAS BROWNE 
as this whereof I hold my Belief, the Church of England; to whose
 
Faith I am a sworn Subject, and therefore in a double Obligation 
subscribe unto her Articles, and endeavour to observe her Consti- 
tutions. Whatsoever is be ond, as points indifferent, I observe ac- 
c ording to the rules of my private reason, or t e umor and fashion 
of my Devotion; n èÍt her believing this, because Luther affirmed it, 
or disproving that, because Calvin hath disavouched it. I condemn 
not all things in the Council of Trent, nor approve all in the Synod 

 Of Dort. In brie! , where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my 
Text; where t h at speaks, 'tis but my Comment: where there is a 
ioynt silence of both, I borrow not the rules of my Religion from 
Rome or Geneva, but the dictates of my own reason. It is an un- 
just scandal of our adversaries, and a gross errour in our selves, to 
compute the Nativity of our Religion from Henry the Eighth, who, 
though he rejected the Pope, refus'd not the faith of Rome, and 
effected no more than what his own Predecessors desired and as- 
sayed in Ages past, and was conceived the State of Venice would 
have attempted in our days. It is as uncharitable a point in us to 
fall upon those popular scurrilities and opprobrious scoffs of the 
Bishop of Rome, to whom, as a temporal Prince, we owe the duty 
of good language. I confess there is cause of passion between us: 
by his sentence I stand excommunicated; Heretick is the best lan- 
guage he affords me; yet can no ear witness I ever returned him the 
name of Antichrist, Man of Sin, or Whore of Babylon. It is the 

ethod of Char" to suffer withou reaction: those us uafSã tyrs 
àn Invectives of the Pulpit may perchance produce a good effect on 
the vulgar, whose ears are opener to Rhetorick than Logick; yet 
do they in no wise confirm the faith of wiser Believers, who know 
that a good cause needs not to be patron'd by passion, but can sus- 
tain itself upon a temperate dispute. 
VI. I could never divide myself from any man upon the differ- 
ence of an opinion, or be angry with his judgment for not agreeing 
with me in that from which perhaps within a few days I should 
dissent my self. I have no Genius to disputes in Religion, and have 
often thought it wisdom to decline them, especially upon a disad- 
vantage, or when the cause of Truth might suffer in the weakness 
of my patronage. Where we desire to be informed, 'tis good to 



RELIGIO MEDICI 257 
contest with men above our selves; but to confirm and establish our 
opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the 
frequent spoils and Victories over their reasons may settle in our- 
selves an esteem and confirmed Opinion of our own. Every man is 
not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gauntlet 
in the cause of Verity: many from the ignorance of these Maximes, 
and an inconsiderate Zeal unto Truth, have too rashly charged the 
Troops of Error, and remain as Trophies unto the enemies of 
Truth. A man may be in as just possession of Truth as of a City, 
and yet be forced to surrender; 'tis therefore far better to enjoy her 
with peace, than to hazzard her on a battle. If, therefore, there rise 
any doubts in my way, I do forget them, or at least defer them till 
my better setled judgement and more manly reason be able to 
resolve them; for I perceive every man's own reason is his best 
ffidipus, and will, upon a reasonable truce, find a way to loose those 
bonds wherewith the subtleties of error have enchained our more 
flexible and tender judgements. In Philosophy, where Truth seems 
double-fac'd, there is no man more Paradoxical than my self: but 
in Divinity I love to keep the Road; and, though not in an implicite, 
yet an humble faith, follow the great wheel of the Church, by which 
I move, not reserving any proper Poles or motion from the Epicycle 8 
of my own brain. By this means I leave no gap for Heresies, 
Schismes, or Errors, of which at present I hope I shall not injure 
Truth to say I have no taint or tincture. I must confess my greener 
studies have been polluted with two or three; not any begotten in 
the latter Centuries, but old and obsolete, such as could never have 
been revived, but by such extravagant and irregular heads as mine: 
for indeed Heresies perish not with their Authors, but, like the 
river Arethusa, though they lose their currents in one place, they 
rise up again in another. One General Council is not able to ex- 
tirpate one single Heresie: it may be cancell'd for the present; but 
revolution of time, and the like aspects from Heaven, will restore it, 
when it will flourish till it be condemned again. For as though there 
were a Metempsuchosis, and the soul of one man passed into an- 
other, Opinions do find, after certain Revolutions, men and minds 
like those that first begat them. To see our selves again, we need 
8 Astronomy, a smaller circle whose center describes a larger. 



258 THOMAS BROWNE 
not look for Plato's year: 9 every man is not only .himself; there 
hath been many Diogenes, and as many Timons, though but few of 
that name: men are liv'd over again, the world is now as it was in 
Ages past; there was none then, but there hath been some one since 
that parallels him, and is, as it were, his revived self. 
VII. Now the first of mine was that of the Arabians, That the 
Souls of men perished with their Bodies, but should yet be raised 
again at the last day. Not that I did absolutely conceive a mortality 
of the Soul; but if that were, (which Faith, not Philosophy, hath yet 
throughly disproved,) and that both entred the grave together, yet 
I held the same conceit thereof that we all do of the body, that it 
should rise again. Surely it is but the merits of our unworthy 
Natures, if we sleep in darkness until the last Alarum. A serious 
reflex upon my own unworthiness did make me backward from 
challenging this prerogative of my Soul: so that I might enjoy my 
Saviour at the last, I could with patience be nothing almost unto 
Eternity. 
The second was that of Origen, That GOD would not persist in 
His vengeance for ever, but after a definite time of His wrath, He 
would release the damned Souls from torture. Which error I fell 
into upon a serious contemplation of the great Attribute of GOD, 
His Mercy; and did a little cherish it in my self, because I found 
therein no malice, and a ready weight to sway me from the other 
extream of despair, whereunto Melancholy and Contemplative Na- 
tures are too easily disposed. 
A third there is, which I did never positively maintain or prac- 
tise, but have often wished it had been consonant to Truth, and not 
offensive to my Religion, and that is, the Prayer for the Dead; 
whereunto I was inclin'd from some charitable inducements, 
whereby I could scarce contain my Prayers for a friend at the ringing 
of a Bell, or behold his Corps without an Orison for his Soul. 'Twas 
a good way, methought, to be remembered by posterity, and far more 
noble than an History. 
These opinions I never maintained with pertinacy, or endeav- 
oured to enveagle any mans belief unto mine, nor so much as ever 


9 A period of thousands of years, at the end of which all things should return 
to their former state. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 259 
revealed or disputed them with my dearest friends; by which means 
I neither propagated them in others, nor confirmed them in my 
self; but suffering them to flame upon their own substance, without 
addition of new fuel, they went out insensibly of themselves. There- 
fore these Opinions, though condemned by lawful Councels, were 
not Heresies in me, but bare Errors, and single Lapses of my under- 
standing, without a joynt depravity of my will. Those have not 
onely depraved understandings, but diseased affections, which can- 
not enjoy a singularity without an Heresie, or be the Author of an 
Opinion without they be of a Sect also. This was the villany of the 
first Schism of Lucifer, who was not content to err alone, but drew 
into his Faction many Legions of Spirits; and upon this experience 
he tempted only Eve, as well understanding the Communicable 
nature of Sin, and that to deceive but one, was tacitely and upon 
consequence to delude them both. 
VIII. That Heresies should arise, we have the Prophesie of 
CHRIST; but that old ones should be abolished, we hold no predic- 
tion. That there must be Heresies, is true, not only in our Church, 
but also in any other: even in doctrines heretical, there will be 
super-heresies; and Arians not only divided from their Church, but 
also among themselves. For heads that are disposed unto Schism 
and complexionally propense lO to innovation, are naturally indisposed 
for a community, nor will be ever confined unto the order or æcon- 
omy of one body; and therefore, when they separate from others, 
they knit but loosely among themselves; nor contented with a gen- 
eral breach or dichotomy with their Church do subdivide and mince 
themselves almost into Atoms. 'Tis true, that men of singular parts 
and humours have not been free from singular opinions and con- 
ceits in all Ages; retaining something, not only beside the opinion of 
his own Church or any other, but also any particular Author; which, 
notwithstanding, a sober Judgment may do without offence or 
heresie; for there is yet, after all the Decrees of Councils and the 
niceties of the Schools, many things untouch'd, unimagin'd, wherein 
the liberty of an honest reason may play and expatiate with security, 
and far without the circle of an Heresie. 
IX. As for those wingy Mysteries in Divinity, and airy subtleties 
10 Inclined by temperament. 



260 


THOMAS BROWNE 


in Religion, which have unhing'd the brains of better heads, they 
never stretched the Pia M ater ll of mine. Methinks there be not im- 
possibilities enough in Religion for an active faith; the deepest Mys- 
teries ours contains have not only been illustrated, but maintained, by 
Syllogism and the rule of Reason. I love to lose my self in a mys- 
tery, to pursue my Reason to an 0 altitudo! 'Tis my solitary recrea- 
tion to pose my apprehension with those involved Ænigmas and 
riddles of the Trinity, with Incarnation, and Resurrection. I can 
answer all the Objections of Satan and my rebellious reason with 
that odd resolution I learned of T ertullian, Certum est, quia im- 
possihile est. I desire to exercise my faith in the difficuItest point; 
for to credit ordinary and visible objects is not faith, but perswasion. 
Some believe the better for seeing CHRIST'S Sepulchre; and, when 
they have seen the Red Sea, doubt not of the Miracle. Now, con- 
trarily, I bless my self and am thankful that I lived not in the days 
of Miracles, that I never saw CHRIST nor His Disciples. I would 
not have been one of those Israelites that pass'd the Red Sea, nor one 
of CHRIST'S patients on whom He wrought His wonders; then had 
my faith been thrust upon me, nor should I enjoy that greater bless- 
ing pronounced to all that believe and saw not. 'Tis an easie and 
necessary belief, to credit what our eye and sense hath examined. I 
believe He was dead, and buried, and rose again; and desire to see 
Him in His glory, rather than to contemplate Him in His Cenotaphe 
or Sepulchre. Nor is this much to believe; as we have reason, we owe 
this faith unto History: they only had the advantage of a bold and 
noble Faith, who lived before His coming, who upon obscure proph- 
esies and mystical Types could raise a belief, and expect apparent 
impossibilities. 
X. 'Tis true, there is an edge in all firm belief, and with an easie 
Metaphor we may say, the Sword of Faith; but in these obscurities 
I rather use it in the adjunct the Apostle gives it, a Buckler; uuder 
which I conceive a wary combatant may lye invulnerable. Since I 
was of understanding to know we knew nothing, my reason hath 
been more pliable to the will of Faith; I am now content to under- 
stand a mystery without a rigid definition, in an easier and PIa- 
11 A membrane surrounding the brain. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 26 I 
tonick description. That allegorical description of Hermes 12 pleaseth 
me beyond all the Metaphysical definitions of Divines. Where I 
cannot satisfy my reason, I love to humour my fancy: I had as live 
you tell me that anima est angelus hominis, est Corpus DEI, [the 
soul is man's angel, God's body] as Entelecllia;13-Lux est umbra 
DEI, [Light is God's shadow] as actus perspicui. 14 Where there is 
an obscurity too deep for our Reason, 'tis good to sit down with a 
description, periphrasis, or adumbration; for by acquainting our 
Reason how unable it is to display the visible and obvious effects of 
Nature, it becomes more humble and submissive unto the subtle
 
ties of Faith; and thus I teach my haggard 15 and unreclaimed Reason 
to stoop unto the lure of Faith. I believe there was already a tree 
whose fruit our unhappy Parents tasted, though, in the same Chap- 
ter when GOD forbids it, 'tis positively said, the plants of the field 
were not yet grown, for GOD had not caul d it to rain upon the 
earth. I believe that the Serpent, (if we shall literally understand 
it,) from his proper form and figure, made his motion on his belly 
before the curse. I find the tryal of the Pucellage and virginity of 
Women, which GOD ordained the Jews, is very fallible. Experience 
and History informs me, that not onely many particular Women, 
but likewise whole Nations, have escaped the curse of Childbirth, 
which GOD seems to pronounce upon the whole Sex. Yet I do be- 
lieve that all this is true, which indeed my Reason would perswade 
me to be false; and this I think is no vulgar part of Faith, to believe 
a thing not only above but contrary to Reason, and against the 
Arguments of our proper Senses. 
XI. In my solitary and retired imagination 
(neque enim cum porticus aut me 
Lectulus accepit, desum mihi,) 
[for when porch or bed has received me, I do not lose myself] 
I remember I am not alone, and therefore torget not to contemplate 
Him and His Attributes Who is ever with me, especially those two 
12The description alluded to, "God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and 
circumference nowhere," is said not to be found in the books which pass under the 
name of the fabulous Hermes Trismegistus. 13 Aristotle's word for "actual being." 
14 The active force of the clear. 15 Intractable: used of a hawk. 



262 


THOMAS BROWNE 


mighty ones, His Wisdom and Eternity. With the one I recreate, 
with the other I confound, my understanding; for who can speak of 
Eternity without a solæcism, or think thereof without an Extasie? 
Time we may comprehend; 'tis but five days elder then our selves, 
and hath the same Horoscope with the World; but to retire so far 
back as to apprehend a beginning, to give such an infinite start 
forwards as to conceive an end, in an essence that we affirm hath 
neither the one nor the other, it puts my Reason to St. Paul's Sanc- 
tuary.16 My Philosophy dares not say the Angels can do it. 
GOD hath not made a Creature that can comprehend Him; 'tis a 
privilege of His own nature. I AM THAT I AM, was His own defini- 
tion unto Moses; and 'twas a short one, to confound mortality, that 
durst question GOD, or ask Him what He was. Indeed, He onely is; 
all others have and shall be. But in Eternity there is no distinction 
of Tenses; and therefore that terrible term Predestination. which 
hath troubled so many weak heads to conceive, and the wisest to 
explain, is in respect to GOD no prescious 17 determination of our Es- 
tates to come, but a definitive blast of His Will already fulfilled, and 
at the instant that He first decreed it; for to His Eternity, which is 
indivisible and all together, the last Trump is already sounded, the 
reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in Abraham's bosome. St. 
Peter speaks modestly/8 when he saith, a thousand years to GOD are 
but as one day; for, to speak like a Philosopher, those continued in- 
stances of time which flow into a thousand years, make not to Him 
one moment: what to us is to come, to His Eternity is present, His 
whole duration being but one permanent point, without Sucession, 
Parts, Flux, or Division. 
XII. There is no Attribute that adds more difficulty to the mys- 
tery of the Trinity, where, though in a relative way of Father and 
Son, we must deny a priority. I wonder how Aristotle could con- 
ceive the World eternal, or how he could make good two Eternities. 
His similitude of a Triangle comprehended in a square doth some- 
what illustrate the Trinity of our Souls, and that the Triple Unity 
of GOD; for there is in us not three, but a Trinity of Souls; because 
there is in us, if not three distinct Souls, yet differing faculties, that 


16 This has been taken as a reference to Rom. xi. 33. but the exact meaning is 
uncertain. 17 Foreknowing. 18 Moderately. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 263 
can and do subsist apart in different Subjects, and yet in us are so 
united as to make but one Soul and substance. 
If one Soul were so perfect as to inform three distinct Bodies, 
that were a petty Trinity: conceive the distinct number of three, not 
divided nor separated by the intellect, but actually comprehended 
in its Unity, and that is a perfect Trinity. I have often admired the 
mystical way of Pythagoras, and the secret Magick of numbers. Be- 
ware of Philosophy. is a precept not to be received in too large a 
sense; for in this Mass of Nature there is a set of things that carry 
in their Front (though not in Capital Letters, yet in Stenography 
and short Characters,) something of Divinity, which to wiser Rea- 
sons serve as Luminaries in the Abyss of Knowledge, and to j udi- 
cious beliefs as Scales 19 and Roundles 20 to mount the Pinacles and 
highest pieces of Divinity. The severe Schools shall never laugh me 
out of the Philosophy of Hermes, that this visible Wodd is but a 
Picture of the invisible, wherein, as in a Pourtraict, things are not 
truely, but in equivocal shapes, and as they counterfeit some more 
real substance in that invisible fabrick. 
XIII. That other Attribute wherewith I recreate my devotion, is 
His Wisdom, in which I am happy; and for the contemplation of 
this only, do not repent me that I was bred in the way of Study: the 
advantage I have of the vulgar, with the content and happiness I 
conceive therein, is an ample recompence for all my endeavours, 
in what part of knowledge soever. Wisdom is His most beauteous 
Attribute; no man can attain unto it, yet Solomon pleased GOD 
when he desired it. He is wise, because He knows all things; and 
He knoweth all things, because He made them all: but His great- 
est knowledge is in comprehending that He made not, that is, Him- 
self. And this is also the greatest knowledge in man. For this do 
I honour my own profession, and embrace the Counsel even of the 
Devil himself: had he read such a Lecture in Paradise as he did at 
Delphos,21 we had better known our selves, nor had we stood in 
fear to know him. I know He is wise in all, wonderful in what we 
conceive, but far more in what we comprehend not; for we behold 
Him but asquint, upon reflex or shadow; our understanding is 


19 Ladders. 20 Steps of a ladder. 21 "Know thyself." This, like other ancient 
oracles, Browne ascribes to the Devil. 



26 4 


THOMAS BROWNE 


dimmer than Moses Eye; we are ignorant of the back-parts or lower 
side of His Divinity; therefore to prie into the maze of His Coun- 
sels is not only folly in man, but presumption even in Angels. Like 
us, they are His Servants, not His Senators; He holds no Counsel, 
but that mystical one of the Trinity, wherein, though there be three 
Persons, there is but one mind that decrees without contradiction. 
Nor needs He any: His actions are not begot with deliberation, 
His Wisdom naturally kno)Vs what's best; His intellect stands ready 
fraught with the superlative and purest Ideas of goodness; consulta- 
tion and election, which are two motions in us, make but one in 
Him, His actions springing from His power at the first touch of 
His will. These are Contemplations metaphysical: my humble 
speculations have another Method, and are content to trace and dis- 
cover those expressions He hath left in His Creatures, and the ob- 
vious effects of Nature. There is no danger to profound 22 these 
mysteries, no sanctum sanetarum in Philosophy. The World was 
made to be inhabited by Beasts, but studied and contemplated by 
Man: 'tis the Debt of our Reason we owe unto GOD, and the homage 
we pay for not being Beasts. Without this, the World is still as 
though it had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as 
yet there was not a Creature that could conceive or say there was 
a World. The Wisdom of GOD receives small honour from those 
vulgar Heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity 
admire His works: those highly magnifie Him, whose judicious 
inquiry into His Acts, and deliberate research into His Creatures, 
return the duty of a devout and learned admiration. Therefore, 


Search while thou wilt, and let thy Reason go, 
To ransome Truth, even to th' Abyss below; 
Rally the scattered Causes; and that line, 
Which Nature twists, be able to untwine. 
It is thy Makers will, for unto none 
But unto Reason can He e're be known. 
The Devils do know Thee, but those damnèd Meteors 
Build not Thy Glory, but confound Thy Creatures. 
Teach my indeavours so Thy works to read, 
That learning them in Thee, I may proceed. 
Give Thou my reason that instructive flight, 
22 Plunge into. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 
Whose weary wings may on Thy hands still light. 
Teach me to soar aloft, yet ever so, 
When neer the Sun, to stoop again below. 
Thus shall my humble Feathers safely hover, 
And, though near Earth, more than the Heavens discover. 
And then at last, when homeward I shall drive, 
Rich with the Spoils of Nature, to my Hive, 
There will I sit like that industrious Flie, 
Buzzing Thy praises, which shall never die, 
Till Death abrupts them, and succeeding Glory 
Bid me go on in a more lasting story. 


26 5 


And this is almost all wherein an humble Creature may en- 
deavour to requite and some way to retribute Z3 unto his Creator: 
for if not he that saith, "Lord, Lord/' but he that doth the will of 
his Father, shall be saved; certainly our wills must be our perform- 
ances, and our intents make out our Actions; otherwise our pious 
labours shall find anxiety in our Graves
 and our best endeavours 
not hope, but fear, a resurrection. 
XIV. There is but one first cause, and four second causes of all 
things. Some are without efficient, as GOD; others without matter, 
as Angels; some without form, as the first matter: but every Essence, 
created or uncreated, hath its final cause, and some positive end both 
of its Essence and Operation. This is the cause I grope after in the 
works of Nature; on this hangs the Providence of GOD. To raise so 
beauteous a structure as the World and the Creatures thereof, was 
but His Art; but their sundry and divided operations, with their 
predestinated ends, are from the Treasure of His Wisdom. In the 
causes, nature, and affections 24 of the Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, 
there is most excellent speculation; but to profound 22 farther, and to 
contemplate a reason why His Providence hath so disposed and 
ordered their motions in that vast circle as to conjoyn and obscure 
each other, is a sweeter piece of Reason, and a diviner point of Phi- 
losophy. Therefore sometimes, and in some things, there appears to 
me as much Divinity in Galen his books De Usu Partium, as in 
Suarez Metaphysicks. Had Aristotle been as curious in the enquiry 
of this cause as he was of the other, he had not left behind him an 
imperfect piece of Philosophy, but an absolute tract of Divinity. 
22 Plunge into. 23 Render back. 24 Influences. 



266 


THOMAS BROWNE 


xv. Natura nihil agit frustra, [Nature does nothing in vain] 
is the only indisputed Axiome in Philosophy. There are no Gro- 
tesques in Nature; not anything framed to fill up empty Cantons/ 5 
and unnecessary spaces. In the most imperfect Creatures, and such 
as were not preserved in the Ark, but, having their Seeds and Prin. 
ciples in the womb of Nature, are every where, where the power of 
the Sun is, in these is the Wisdom o
 His hand discovered. Out of 
this rank Solomon chose the obj ect of his admiration. Indeed what 
Reason may not go to School to the Wisdom of Bees, Ants, and 
Spiders? what wise hand teacheth them to do what Reason cannot 
teach us? Ruder heads stand amazed at those prodigious pieces of 
Nature, Whales, Elephants, Dromidaries and Camels; these, I con- 
fess, are the Colossus and majestick pieces of her hand: but in these 
narrow Engines there is more curious Mathematicks; and the civil- 
ity of these little Citizens more neatly sets forth Wisdom of their 
Maker. Who admires not Regio-Montanus 26 his Fly beyond his 
Eagle, or wonders not more at the operation of two Souls 21 in those 
little Bodies, than but one in the Trunk of a Cedar? I could never 
content my contemplations with those general pieces of wonder, the 
Flux and Reflux of the Sea, the increase of Nile, the conversion of 
the Needle to the North; and have studied to match and parallel 
those in the more obvious and neglected pieces of Nature, which 
without further travel I can do in the Cosmography of myself. 
We carry with us the wonders we seek without us: there is all 
Africa and her prodigies in us; we are that bold and adventur- 
ous piece of Nature, which he that studies wisely learns in a com- 
pendium what others labour at in a divided piece and endless 
volume. 
XVI. Thus there are two Books from whence I collect my Di- 
vinity; besides that written one of GOD, another of His servant Na- 
ture, that universal and publick Manuscript, that lies expans'd unto 
the Eyes of all: those that never saw Him in the one, have discovered 
Him in the other. This was the Scripture and Theology of the 
Heathens: the natural motion of the Sun made them more admire 
Him than its supernatural station did the Children of Israel; the 


25 Corners. 26 John Müller of Königsberg (1636-75), who made an automatic 
iron fly on a wooden cagle. 27 The sensitive and the vegetative. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 267 
ordinary effects of Nature wrought more admiration in them than 
in the other all His Miracles. Surely the Heathens knew better how 
to joyn and read these mystical Letters than we Christians, who cast 
a more careless Eye on these common Hieroglyphicks, and disdain 
to suck Divinity from the flowers of Nature. Nor do I so forget GOD 
as to adore the name of Nature; which I define not, with the 
Schools, to be the principle of motion and rest, but that streight and 
regular line, that settled and constant course the Wisdom of GOD 
hath ordained the actions of His creatures, according to their several 
kinds. To make a revolution every day is the Nature of the Sun, 
because of that necessary course which GOD hath ordained it, from 
which it cannot swerve but by a faculty from that voice which first 
did give it motion. Now this course of Nature GOD seldome alters 
or perverts, but, like an excellent Artist, hath so contrived His 
work, that with the self same instrument, without a new creation, 
He may effect His obscurest designs. Thus He sweetneth the Water 
with a Wood,28 preserveth the Creatures in the Ark, which the blast 
of His mouth might have as easily created; for GOD is like a skilful 
Geometrician, who, when more easily and with one stroak of his 
Compass he might describe or divide a right line, had yet rather do 
this in a circle or longer way, according to the constituted and fore- 
laid principles of his Art. Yet this rule of His He doth sometimes 
pervert, to acquaint the Wodd with His Prerogative, lest the ar- 
rogancy of our reason should question His power, and conclude He 
could not. And thus I call the effects of Nature the works of GOD, 
Whose hand and instrument she only is; and therefore to ascribe His 
actions unto her, is to devolve the honour of the principal agent 
upon the instrument; which if with reason we may do, then let our 
hammers rise up and boast they have built our houses, and our pens 
receive the honour of our writings. I hold there is a general beauty 
in the works of GOD, and therefore no deformity in any kind or 
species of creature whatsoever. I cannot tell by what Logick we call 
a Toad, a Bear, or an Elephant ugly; they being created in those 
outward shapes and figures which best express the actions of their 
inward forms, and having past that general Visitation 29 of GOD, 
Who saw that all that He had made was good, that is, conformable 
28 Exod. xv. 25. 29 Inspection, Gen. i. 31. 



268 THOMAS BROWNE 
to His Will, which abhors deformity, and is the rule of order and 
beauty. There is no deformity but in Monstrosity; wherein, not- 
withstanding, there is a kind of Beauty; Nature so ingeniously con- 
triving the irregular parts, as they become sometimes more remark- 
able than the principal Fabrick. To speak yet more narrowly, there 
was never any thing ugly or mis-shapen, but the Chaos; wherein, 
notwithstanding, (to speak strictly,) there was no deformity, because 
no form; nor was it yet impregnant by the voice of GOD. Now 
Nature is not at variance with Art, nor Art with Nature, they being 
both servants of His Providence. Art is the perfection of Nature. 
Were the World now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a 
Chaos. Nature hath made one World, and Art another. In brief, 
2.11 things are artificial; for Nature is the Art of GOD. 
XVII. This is the ordinary and open way of His Providence, 
which Art and Industry have in a good part discovered; whose 
effects we may foretel without an Oracle: to foreshew these, is not 
Prophesie, but Prognostication. There is another way, full of 
Meanders and Labyrinths, whereof the Devil and Spirits have no 
exact Ephemerides;30 and that is a more particular and obscure 
method of His Providence, directing the operations of individuals 
and single Essences: this we call Fortune, that serpentine and crook- 
ed line, whereby He draws those actions His Wisdom intends, 
in a more unknown and secret way. This cryptick and involved 
method of His Providence have I ever admired; nor can I relate 
the History of my life, the occurrences of my days, the escapes of 
dangers, and hits of chance, with a Bezo las Manol 1 to Fortune, 
or a bare Gramercy to my good Stars. Abraham might have 
thought the Ram in the thicket came thither by accident; humane 32 
reason would have said that meer chance conveyed Moses in the 
Ark to the sight of Pharaoh's Daughter: what a Labyrinth is there 
in the story of Joseph, able to convert a Stoick! Surely there are 
in every man's Life certain rubs, doublings, and wrenches, which 
pass a while under the effects of chance, but at the last, well exam- 
ined, prove the meer hand of GOD. 'Twas not dumb chance, that, 
to discover the Fougade or Powder-plot, contrived a miscarriage 
30 Tables of the daily state of the heavens, used as bases for prognostications. 
31 Spanish, "I kiss hands," an acknowledgment of favor received. 32 Human. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 269 
in the Letter. 33 I like the Victory of '88 the better for that one oc- 
currence, which our enemies imputed to our dishonour and the 
partiality of Fortune, to wit, the tempests and contrariety of Winds. 
King Philip did not detract from the Nation, when he said, he 
sent his Armado to fight with men, and not to combate with the 
Winds. Where there is a manifest disproportion between the powers 
and forces of two several agents, upon a Maxime of reason we may 
promise the Victory to the Superiour; but when unexpected acci- 
dents slip in, and unthought of occurrences intervene, these must 
proceed from a power that owes no obedience to those Axioms; 
where, as in the writing upon the wall, we may behold the hand, 
but see not the spring that moves it. The success of that petty 
Province of Holland (of which the Grand Seignour 34 proudly said, 
if they should trouble him as they did the Spaniard, he would send 
his men with shovels and pick-axes, and throw it into the Sea,) I 
cannot altogether ascribe to the ingenuity and industry of the peo- 
ple, but the mercy of GOD, that hath disposed them to such a thriv- 
ing Genius; and to the will of His Providence, that disposeth her 
favour to each Country in their pre-ordinate season. All cannot be 
happy at once; for, because the glory of one State depends upon the 
ruine of another, there is a revolution and vicissitude of their great- 
ness, and must obey the swing of that wheel, not moved by Intelli- 
gences, but by the hand of GOD, whereby all Estates arise to their 
Zenith and Vertical points according to their predestinated periods. 
For the lives, not only of men, but of Commonwealths, and the 
whole World, run not upon an Helix. 35 that still enlargeth, but on 
a Circle, where, arriving to their Meridian, they decline in obscurity, 
and fall under the Horizon again. 
XVIII. These must not therefore be named the effects of Fortune, 
but in a relative way, and as we term the works of Nature. It was 
the ignorance of mans reason that begat this very name, and by a 
careless term miscalled the Providence of GOD; for there is no lib- 
erty for causes to operate in a loose and stragling way; nor any 
effect whatsoever, but hath its warrant from some universal or su- 
periour Cause. 'Tis not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before 
33 A miscarriage of the plot by means of the letter to Lord Monteagle, by which 
the plot was discovered. 34 The Sultan of Turkey. 35 Spiral. 



270 THOMAS BROWNE 
a game at Tables; for even in sortilegiei 6 and matters of greatest 
uncertainty there is a setled and preordered course of effects. It is 
we that are blind, not Fortune: because our Eye is too dim to dis- 
cover the mystery of her effects, we foolishly paint her blind, and 
hoodwink the Providence of the Almighty. I cannot justifie that 
contemptible Proverb, That fools only are Fortunate, or that inso- 
lent Paradox, That a wise man is out of the reach of Fortune; 
much less those opprobrious epithets of Poets, Whore, Bawd, and 
Strumpet. 'Tis, I confess, the common fate of men of singular gifts 
of mind to be destitute of those of Fortune, which doth not any 
way deject the Spirit of wiser judgements, who throughly under- 
stand the justice of this proceeding; and being inriched with higher 
donatives,37 cast a more careless eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. 
It is a most unjust ambition to desire to engross the mercies of the 
Almighty, not to be content with the goods of mind, without a 
possession of those of body or Fortune; and it is an error worse 
than heresie, to adore these complemental and circumstantial pieces 
of felicity, and undervalue those perfections and essential points of 
happiness wherein we resemble our Maker. To wiser desires it is 
satisfaction enough to deserve, though not to enjoy, the favours 
of Fortune: let Providence provide for Fools. 'Tis not partiality, 
but equity in GOD, Who deals with us but as our natural Parents: 
those that are able of Body and Mind He leaves to their deserts; to 
those of weaker merits He imparts a larger portion, and pieces out 
the defect of one by the excess of the other. Thus have we no 
just quarrel with Nature for leaving us naked; or to envy the Horns, 
Hoofs, Skins, and Furs of other Creatures, being provided with 
Reason, that can supply them all. We need not labour with so many 
Arguments to confute Judicial Astrology; for, if there be a truth 
therein, it doth not injure Divinity. If to be born under Mercury 
disposeth us to be witty, under Jupiter to be wealthy; I do not owe 
a Knee unto these, but unto that merciful Hand that hath ordered 
my indifferent and uncertain nativity unto such benevolous As- 
pects. Those that hold that all things are governed by Fortune, had 
not erred, had they not persisted 38 there. The Romans, that erected 
a Temple to Fortune, acknowledged therein, though in a blinder 
36 Drawing lots. 37 Gifts. 38 Stood still. 



RELIGIO :tvIEDICI 27I 
way, somewhat of Divinity; for, in a wise supputation,39 all things 
begin and end in the Almighty. There is a nearer way to Heaven 
than Homer's Chain;40 an easie Logic may conjoyn Heaven and 
Earth in one Argument, and with less than a Sorites 41 resolve all 
things into GOD. For though we christen effects by their most sensi- 
ble 42 and nearest Causes, yet is GOD the true and infallible Cause of 
all; whose concourse/ 3 though it be general, yet doth it subdivide 
it self into the particular Actions of every thing, and is that Spirit, 
by which each singular Essence not only subsists, but performs its 
operation. 
XIX. The bad construction and perverse comment on these pair 
of second Causes, or visible hands of GOD, have perverted the De- 
votion of many unto Atheism; who, forgetting the honest Advisoes 44 
of Faith, have listened unto the conspiracy of Passion and Reason. 
I have therefore always endeavoured to compose those Feuds and 
angry Dissentions between Affection, Faith, and Reason; for there 
is in our Soul a kind of Triumvirate, or triple Government of three 
Competitors, which distract the Peace of this our Commonwealth, 
not less than did that other the State of Rome. 
As Reason is a Rebel unto Faith, so Passion unto Reason: as the 
propositions of Faith seem absurd unto Reason, so the Theorems of 
Reason unto Passion, and both unto Faith. Yet a moderate and 
peaceable discretion may so state and order the matter, that they 
may be all Kings, and yet make but one Monarchy, everyone exer- 
cising his Soveraignty and Prerogative in a due time and place, 
according to the restraint and limit of circumstance. There is, as 
in Philosophy, so in Divinity, sturdy doubts and boisterous Objec- 
tions, wherewith the unhappiness of our knowledge too nearly ac- 
quainteth us. More of these no man hath known than myself, which 
I confess I conquered, not in a martial posture, but on my Knees. 
For our endeavours are not only to combat with doubts, but always 
to dispute with the Devil. The villany of that Spirit takes a hint of 
Infidelity from our Studies, and, by demonstrating a naturality in 
one way, makes us mistrust a miracle in another. Thus) having 
perused the Archidoxis 45 and read the secret Sympathies of things, 


39 Calculation. 40 Iliad viii. 19. 41 A series of syllogisms. 42 Perceptible to 
sense. 43 Cooperation. 44 Admonitions. 45 A work by Paracelsus. 



272 THOMAS BROWNE 
he would disswade my belief from the miracle of the Brazen Ser- 
pent, make me conceit that Image worked by Sympathy, and was 
but an Ægyptian trick to cure their Diseases without a miracle. 
Again, having seen some experiments of Bitumen, and having read 
far more of Naphtha, he whispered to my curiosity the fire of the 
Altar might be natural; and bid me mistrust a miracle in Elias, 
when he entrenched the Altar round with Water; for that inflama- 
ble substance yields not easily unto Water, but flames in the Arms 
of its Antagonist. And thus would he inveagle my belief to think 
the combustion of Sodom might be natural, and that there was an 
Asphaltick and Bituminous nature in that Lake before the fire of 
Gomorrah. I know that Manna is now plentifully gathered in 
Calabria; and Josephus tells me, in his days it was as plentiful in 
Arabia; the Devil therefore made the quære, Where was then the 
miracle in the days of Moses? the Israelites saw bu.t that in his time. 
the Natives of those Countries behold in ours. Thus the Devil 
played at Chess with me, and yielding a Pawn, thought to gain a 
Queen of me, taking advantage of my honest endeavours; and 
whilst I laboured to raise the structure of my Reason, he strived to 
undermine the edifice of my Faith. 
XX. Neither had these or any other ever such advantage of me, 
as to incline me to any point of Infidelity or desperate positions of 
Atheism; for I have been these many years of opinion there was 
never any. Those that held Religion was the difference of Man 
from Beasts, have spoken probably, and proceed upon a principle 
as inductive as the other. That doctrine of Epicurus, that denied 
the Providence of GOD, was no Atheism, but a magnificent and high 
strained conceit of His Majesty, which he deemed too sublime to 
mind the trivial Actions of those inferior Creatures. That fatal 
Necessity of the Stoicks is nothing but the immutable Law of His 
Will. Those that heretofore denied the Divinity of the HOLY 
GHOST, have been condemned but as Hereticks; and those that now 
deny our Saviour, (though more than Hereticks,) are not so much 
as Atheists; for, though they deny two persons in the Trinity, they 
hold, as we do, there is but one GOD. 
That Villain and Secretary of Hell/ 6 that composed that mis- 
46 Name unknown. 



RELIGIO :tvIEDICI 273 
creant piece Of the Three Impostors, though divided from all 
Religions, and was neither Jew, Turk, nor Christian, was not a 
positive Atheist. I confess every Country hath its Machiavel, every 
age its Lucian, whereof common Heads must not hear, nor more 
advanced Judgments too rashly venture on: it is the Rhetorick of 
Satan, and may pervert a loose or prejudicate belief. 
XXI. I confess I have perused them all, and can discover nothing 
that may startle a discreet belief; yet are there heads carried off with 
the Wind and breath of such motives. I remember a Doctor in 
Physick, of Italy, who could not perfectly believe the immortality of 
the Soul, because Galen seemed to make a doubt thereof. With 
another I was familiarly acquainted in France, a Divine, and a man 
of singular parts, that on the same point was so plunged and grav- 
elled with three lines of Seneca, that all our Antidotes, drawn from 
both Scripture and Philosophy, could not expel the poyson of his 
errour. There are a set of Heads, that can credit the relations of 
Mariners, yet question the Testimonies of St. Paul; and peremptor- 
ily maintain the traditions of Ælian or Pliny, yet in Histories of 
Scripture raise Queries and Objections, believing no more than they 
can parallel in humane 47 Authors. I confess there are in Scripture 
Stories that do exceed the Fables of Poets, and to a captious Reader 
sound like Garagantua or Bevis. Search all the Legends of times 
past, and the fabulous conceits of these present, and 'twill be hard to 
find one that deserves to carry the Buckler unto Sampson; yet is all 
this of an easie possibility, if we conceive a Divine concourse/ 8 or 
an influence but from the little Finger of the Almighty. It is im- 
possible that either in the discourse of man, or in the infallible Voice 
of GOD, to the weakness of our apprehensions, there should not 
appear irregularities, contradictions, and antinomies:4S my self could 
shew a Catalogue of doubts, never yet imagined nor questioned, as 
I know, which are not resolved at the first hearing; not fantastick 
Queries or Objections of Air; for I cannot hear of Atoms in Divin- 
ity. I can read the History of the Pigeon that was sent out of the 
Ark, and returned no more, yet not question how she found out 
her Mate that was left behind: that Lazarus was raised from the 
dead, yet not demand where in the interim his Soul awaited; or 
47 HUman. 48 Cooperation.. 49 Contradictions of naturaJ Jaw. 



274 THOMAS BROWNE 
raise a Lawcase, whether his Heir might lawfully detain his inheri- 
tance bequeathed unto him by his death, and he, though restored to 
life, have no Plea or Title unto his former possessions. Whether 
Eve was framed out of the left side of Adam, I dispute not; because 
I stand not yet assured which is the right side of a man, or whether 
there be any such distinction in Nature: that she was edified out 
of the Rib of Adam I believe, yet raise no question who shall 
arise with that Rib at the Resurrection. Whether Adam was an 
Hermaphrodite, as the Rabbins contend upon the Letter of the 
Text, because it is contrary to reason, there should be an Herma- 
phrodite before there was a Woman, or a composition of two Na- 
tures before there was a second composed. Likewise, whether the 
Wodd was created in Autumn, Summer, or the Spring, because it 
was created in them all; for whatsoever Sign the Sun possesseth, 
those four Seasons are actually existent. It is the nature of this 
Luminary to distinguish the several Seasons of the year, all which it 
makes at one time in the whole Earth, and successive in any part 
thereof. There are a bundle of curiosities, not only in Philosophy, 
but in Divinity, proposed and discussed by men of most supposed 
abilities, which indeed are not worthy our vacant hours, much less 
our serious Studies: Pieces only fit to be placed in Pantagruel's 
Library, or bound up with Tartaretus De modo Cacandi. 50 
XXII. These are niceties that become not those that peruse 
so serious a Mystery. There are others more generally questioned 
and called to the Bar, yet methinks of an easie and possible 
truth. 
'Tis ridiculous to put off or drown the general Flood of Noah in 
that particular inundation of Deucalion. That there was a Deluge 
once, seems not to me so great a Miracle, as that there is not one 
always. How all the kinds of Creatures, not only in their own bulks, 
but with a competency of food and sustenance, might be preserved 
in one Ark, and within the extent of three hundred Cubits, to a 
reason that rightly examines it will appear very feasible. There is 
another secret, not contained in the Scripture, which is more hard 
to comprehend, and put the honest Father 51 to the refuge of a 


50 The title of an imaginary book in the list given by Rabelais in his "Pantagruel." 
51 St. Augustine. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 275 
Miracle; and that is, not only how the distinct pieces of the World 
and divided Islands, shollJd be first planted by men, but inhabited 
by Tigers, Panthers, and Bears. How America abounded with 
Beasts of prey and noxious Animals, yet contained not in it that 
necessary Creature, a Horse, is very strange. By what passage those, 
not only Birds, but dangerous and unwelcome Beasts, came over; 
how there be Creatures there, which are not found in this Triple 
Continent; (all which must needs be strange unto us, that hold 
but one Ark, and that the Creatures began their progress from the 
Mountains of Ararat:) they who, to salve this, would make the 
Deluge particular, proceed upon a principle that I can no way grant; 
not only upon the negative of Holy Scriptures, but of mine own 
Reason, whereby I can make it probable, that the Wodd was as 
well peopled in the time of Noah as in ours; and fifteen hundred 
years to people the Wodd, as full a time for them, as four thousand 
years since have been to us. 
There are other assertions and common Tenents drawn from 
Scripture, and generally believed as Scripture, whereunto, notwith- 
standing, I would never betray the liberty of my Reason. 'Tis a 
Postulate to me, that Methusalem was the longest liv'd of all the 
Children of Adam; and no man will be able to prove it, when, from 
the process of the Text, I can manifest it may be otherwise. That 
Judas perished by hanging himself, there is no certainty in Scrip- 
ture: though in one place it seems to affirm it, and by a doubtful 
word hath given occasion to translate it; yet in another place, in a 
more punctual description, it makes it improbable, and seems to 
overthrow it. That our Fathers, after the Flood, erected the Tower 
of Babel to preserve themselves against a second Deluge, is gener- 
ally opinioned and believed; yet is there another intention of theirs 
expressed in Scripture: besides, it is improbable from the circum- 
stances of the place, that is, a plain in the Land of Shinar. These 
are no points of Faith, and therefore may admit a free dispute. 
There are yet others, and those familiarly concluded from the 
text, wherein (under favour,) I see no consequence. The Church 
of Rome confidently proves the opinion of Tutelary Angels from 
that Answer, when Peter knockt at the Door, 'Tis not he, but his 
Angel; that is (might some say,) his Messenger, or some body from 



276 THOMAS BROWNE 
him; for so the Original signifies, and is as likely to be the doubtful 
Families meaning. This exposition I once suggested to a young 
Divine, that answered upon this point; to which I remember the 
Franciscan Opponent replyed no more, but That it was a new, and 
no attthentick interpretation. 
XXIII. These are but the conclusions and fallible discourses of 
man upon the Word of GOD, for such I do believe the Holy Scrip- 
tures: yet, were it of man, I could not chuse but say, it was the 
singularest and superlative piece that hath been extant since the 
Creation. Were I a Pagan, I should not refrain the Lecture 52 of 
it; and cannot but commend the judgment of Ptolomy,53 and 
thought not his Library compleat without it. The Alcoran of the 
Turks (I speak without prejudice,) is an ill composed Piece, con- 
taining in vain and ridiculous Errors in Philosophy, impossibilities, 
fictions, and vanities beyond laughter, maintained by evident and 
open Sophisms, the Policy of Ignorance, deposition of Universities, 
and banishment of Learning, that hath gotten Foot by Arms and 
violence: this without a blow hath disseminated it self through the 
whole Earth. It is not unremarkable what Philo first observed, that 
the Law of Moses continued two thousand years without the least 
alteration; whereas, we see the Laws of other Common-weals do 
alter with occasions; and even those that pretended their original 
from some Divinity, to have vanished without trace or memory. I 
believe, besides Zoroaster, there were divers that writ before Moses, 
who, notwithstanding, have suffered the common fate of time. 
Mens Works have an age like themselves; and though they out-live 
their Authors, yet have they a stint 54 and period to their duration: 
this only is a work too hard for the teeth of time, and cannot perish 
but in the general Flames, when all things shall confess their Ashes. 
XXIV. I have heard some with deep sighs lament the lost lines of 
Cicero; others with as many groans deplore the combustion of the 
Library of Alexandria: for my own part, I think there be too many in 
the World, and could with patience behold the urn and ashes of 
the Vatican, could I, with a few others, recover the perished leaves 
of Solomon. I would not omit a copy of Enoch's Pillars,55 had they 
52 Reading. 53 King of Egypt. 54 Limit. 
S5 Josephus says that the descendants of Seth erected two pillars on which all 
human inventions so far made were engraved. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 277 
many nearer Authors than Josephus, or did not relish somewhat 
of the Fable. Some men have written more than others have spoken; 
Pineda 56 quotes more Authors in one work, than are necessary in 
a whole Wodd. Of those three great inventions 51 in Germany, there 
are two which are not without their incommodities, and 'tis dis- 
putable whether they exceed not their use and commodities. 'Tis 
not a melancholy Utinam 58 of my own, but the desires of better 
heads, that there were a general Synod; not to unite the incompati- 
ble difference of Religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it 
as it lay at first, in a few and solid Authors; and to condemn to the 
fire those swarms and millions of Rhapsodies, begotten only to 
distract and abuse the weaker judgements of Scholars, and to main- 
tain the trade and mystery of Typographers. 
XXV. I cannot but wonder with what exception the Samaritans 
could confine their belief to the Pentateuch, or five Books of Moses. 
I am ashamed at the Rabbinical Interpretation of the Jews upon 
the Old Testament, as much as their defection from the New: and 
truly it is beyond wonder, how that contemptible and degenerate 
issue of Jacob, once so devoted to Ethnick 59 Superstition, and so 
easily seduced to the Idolatry of their Neighbours, should now in 
such an obstinate and peremptory belief adhere unto their own 
Doctrine, expect impossibilities, and, in the face and eye of the 
Church, persist without the least hope of Conversion. This is a 
vice in them, that were a vertue in us; for obstinacy in a bad Cause 
is but constancy in a good. And herein I must accuse those of my 
own Religion, for there is not any of such a fugitive Faith, such an 
unstable belief, as a Christian; none that do so oft transform them- 
selves, not unto several shapes of Christianity and of the same Spe- 
cies, but unto more unnatural and contrary Forms of Jew and Ma- 
hometan; that, from the name of Saviour, can condescend to the 
bare term of Prophet; and, from an old belief that He is come, fall 
to a new expectation of His coming. It is the promise of CHRIST 
to make us all one Flock; but how and when this Union shall be, 
is as obscure to me as the last day. Of those four Members of Re- 
ligion 60 we hold a slender proportion. There are, I confess, some 
58 Juan de Pineda published his "Monarchia Ecclesiastica" in 1588. 
51 One MS. explains these as guns, printing, and the mariner's compass. 58 Latin, 
would that! 59 Gentile. 60 Pagans, Mohammedans, Jews, and Christian:.. 



278 THOMAS BROWNE 
new additions, yet small to those which accrew to our Adversaries, 
and those only drawn from the revolt of Pagans, men but of nega- 
tive Impieties, and such as deny CHRIST, but because they never 
heard of Him. But the Religion of the Jew is expresly against the 
Christian, and the Mahometan against both. For the Turk, in the 
bulk he now stands, he is beyond all hope of conversion; if he fall 
asunder, there may be conceived hopes, but not without strong im- 
probabilities. The Jew is obstinate in all fortunes; the persecution 
of fifteen hundred years hath but confirmed them in their Errour: 
they have already endured whatsoever may be inflicted, and have 
suffered in a bad cause, even to the condemnation of their enemies. 
Persecution is a bad and indirect way to plant Religion: it hath 
been the unhappy method of angry Devotions,61 not only to confirm 
honest Religion, but wicked Heresies, and extravagant Opinions. 
It was the first stone and Basis of our Faith; none can more justly 
boast of Persecutions, and glory in the number and valour of Mar- 
tyrs. For, to speak properly, those are true and almost only exam- 
ples of fortitude: those that are fetch'd from the field, or drawn 
from the actions of the Camp, are not oft-times so truely precedents 
of valour as audacity, and at the best attain but to some bastard 
piece of fortitude. If we shall strictly examine the circumstances 
and requisites which Aristotle requires to true and perfect valour, 
we shall find the name only in his Master, Alexander, and as little 
in that Roman Worthy, Julius Cæsar; and if any in that easie and 
active way have done so nobly as to deserve that name, yet in the 
passive and more terrible piece these have surpassed, and in a more 
heroical way may claim the honour of that Title. 'Tis not in the 
power of every honest Faith to proceed thus far, or pass to Heaven 
through the flames. Everyone hath it not in that full measure, nor 
in so audacious and resolute a temper, as to endure those terrible 
tests and trials; who, notwithstanding, in a peaceable way, do truely 
adore their Saviour, and have (no doubt,) a Faith acceptable in the 
eyes of GOD. 
XXVI. Now, as all that dye in the War are not termed Souldiers; 
so neither can I properly term all those that suffer in matters of 
Religion, Martyrs. The Council of Constance condemns John Huss 
61 Devotees. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 279 
for an Heretick; the Stories of his own Party stile him a Martyr: 
he must needs offend the Divinity of both, that says he was neither 
the one nor the other. There are many (questionless), canonized 
on earth, that shall never be Saints in Heaven; and have their names 
in Histories and Martyrologies, who in the eyes of GOD are not so 
perfect Martyrs as was that wise Heathen, Socrates, that suffered 
on a fundamental point of Religion, the unity of GOD. I have often 
pitied the miserable Bishop62 that suffered in the cause of Antipodes; 
yet cannot chuse but accuse him of as much madness, for exposing 
his living on such a trifle, as those of ignorance and folly, that con- 
demned him. I think my conscience will not give me the lye, if I 
say there are not many extant that in a noble way fear the face of 
death less than myself; yet, from the moral duty I owe to the Com- 
mandment of GOD, and the natural respects that I tender unto the 
conservation of my essence and being, I would not perish upon a 
Ceremony, Politick points, or indifferency: nor is my belief of that 
untractible temper, as not to bow at their obstacles, or connive at 
matters wherein there are not manifest impieties. The leaven, there- 
fore, and ferment of all, not only civil but Religious actions, is Wis- 
dom; without which, to commit our selves to the flames is Homi- 
cide, and (I fear,) but to pass through one fire into another. 
XXVII. That Miracles are ceased, I can neither prove, nor abso- 
lutely deny, much less define the time and period of their cessa- 
tion. That they survived CHRIST, is manifest upon the Record of 
Scripture; that they out-lived the Apostles also, and were revived at 
the Conversion of Nations many years after, we cannot deny, if we 
shall not question those Writers whose testimonies we do not contro- 
vert in points that make for our own opinions. Therefore that may 
have some truth in it that is reported by the Jesuites of their Miracles 
in the Indies; I could wish it were true, or had any other testimony 
than their own Pens. They may easily believe those Miracles abroad, 
who daily conceive a greater at home, the transmutation of those 
visible elements into the Body and Blood of our Saviour. For the 
conversion of Water into Wine, which He wrought in Cana, or, 
what the Devil would have had Him done in the Wilderness, of 


62 Virgilius, Bishop of Salzburg in the 8th century, was said to have asserted the 
existence of the Antipodes. 



280 


THOMAS BROWNE 


Stones into Bread, compared to this, will scarce deserve the name 
of a Miracle: though indeed, to speak properly, there is not one 
Miracle greater than another, they being the extraordinary effects of 
the Hand of GOD, to which all things are of an equal facility; and 
to create the World, as easie as one single Creature. For this is also 
a Miracle, not onely to produce effects against or above Nature, but 
before Nature; and to create Nature, as great a Miracle as to con- 
tradict or transcend her. We do too narrowly define the Power of 
GOD, restraining it to our capacities. I hold that GOD can do all 
things; how He should work contradictions, I do not understand, 
yet dare not therefore deny. I cannot see why the Angel of GOD 
should question Esdras to recal the time past, if it were beyond 
His own power; or that GOD should pose mortality in that which 
He was not able to perform Himself. I will not say GOD cannot, 
but He will not, perform many things, which we plainly affirm He 
cannot. This, I am sure, is the mannerliest proposition, wherein, 
notwithstanding, I hold no Paradox; for, strictly, His power is the 
same with His will, and they both, with all the rest, do make but 
one Go:o. 
XXVIII. Therefore that Miracles have been, I do believe; that 
they may yet be wrought by the living, I do not deny; but have no 
confidence in those which are fathered on the dead. And this hath 
ever made me suspect the efficacy of reliques, to examine the bones, 
question the habits and appurtenances of Saints, and even of CHRIST 
Himself. I cannot conceive why the Cross that Helena found, and 
whereon CHRIST Himself dyed, should have power to restore others 
unto life. I excuse not Constantine from a fall off his Horse, or a 
mischief from his enemies, upon the wearing those nails on his 
bridle, which our Saviour bore upon the Cross in His Hands. I 
compute among your Piæ fraudes,63 nor many degrees before conse- 
crated Swords and Roses, that which Baldwyn, King of Jerusalem, 
returned the Genovese for their cost and pains in his War, to wit, 
the ashes of John the Baptist. Those that hold the sanctity of their 
Souls doth leave behind a tincture and sacred faculty on their bodies, 
speak naturally of Miracles, and do not salve the doubt. Now one 
reason I tender so little Devotion unto Reliques, is, I think, the 
63 Pious frauds. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 28 I 
slender and doubtful respect I have always held unto Antiquities. 
For that indeed which I admire, is far before Antiquity, that is, 
Eternity; and that is, GOD Himself; Who, though He be styled the 
Ancient of Days, cannot receive the adjunct of Antiquity; Who was 
before the World, and shall be after it, yet is not older than it; for in 
His years there is no Climacter;64 His duration is Eternity, and far 
more venerable than Antiquity. 
XXIX. But above all things I wonder how the curiosity of wiser 
heads could pass that great and indisputable Miracle, the cessation 
of Oracles; and in what swoun their Reasons lay, to content them- 
selves and sit down with such a far-fetch'd and ridiculous reason as 
Plutarch alleadgeth for it. The Jews, that can believe the super- 
natural Solstice of the Sun in the days of Joshua, have yet the im- 
pudence to deny the Eclipse, which every Pagan confessed, at His 
death: but for this, it is evident beyond all contradiction, the Devil 
himself confessed it. 65 Certainly it is not a warrantable curiosity, to 
examine the verity of Scripture by the concordance of humane his- 
tory, or to seek to confirm the Chronicle of Hester or Daniel, by 
the authority of Megasthenes or Herodotus. I confess, I have had 
an unhappy curiosity this way, till I laughed my self out of it with 
a piece of Justine, where he delivers that the Children of Israel for 
being scabbed were banished out of Egypt. And truely since I have 
understood the occurrences of the World, and know in what coun- 
terfeit shapes and deceitful vizards times present represent on the 
stage things past, I do believe them little more then things to come. 
Some have been of my opinion, and endeavoured to write the His- 
tory of their own lives; wherein Moses hath outgone them all and 
left not onely the story of his life, but (as some will have it,) of his 
death also. 
XXX. It is a riddle to me, how this story of Oracles hath not 
worm'd out of the World that doubtful conceit of Spirits and 
Witches; how so many learned heads should so far forget their 
Metaphysicks, and destroy the ladder and scale of creatures, as to 
question the existence of Spirits. For my part, I have ever believed, 
and do now know, that there are Witches: they that doubt of these, 


64 The point in a man's life when his powers begin to decay. 
65 "In his oracle to Augustus."-T. B. 



282 THOMAS BROWNE 
do not onely deny them, but Spirits; and are obliquely and upon 
consequence a sort not of Infidels, but Atheists. Those that to con- 
fute their incredulity desire to see apparitions, shall questionless 
never behold any, nor have the power to be so much as Witches; 
the Devil hath them already in a heresie as capital as Witchcraft; 
and to appear to them, were but to convert them. Of all the de- 
lusions wherewith he deceives morality, there is not any that puz- 
zleth me more than the Legerdemain of Changelings. I do not 
credit those transformations of reasonable creatures into beasts, or 
that the Devil hath a power to transpeciate 66 a man into a Horse, 
who tempted CHRIST (as a trial of His Divinity,) to convert but 
stones into bread. I could believe that Spirits use with man the act 
of carnality, and that in both sexes; I conceive they may assume, 
steal, or contrive a body, wherein there may be action enough to 
content decrepit lust, or passion to satisfie more active veneries;67 
yet, in both, without a possibility of generation: and therefore that 
opinion that Antichrist should be born of the Tribe of Dan by 
conj unction with the Divil, is ridiculous, and a conceit fitter for a 
Rabbin than a Christian. I hold that the Devil doth really possess 
some men, the spirit of Melancholy others, the spirit of Delusion 
others; that, as the Devil is concealed and denyed by some, so GOD 
and good Angels are pretended by others, whereof the late defec- 
tion 68 of the Maid of Germany hath left a pregnant example. 
XXXI. Again, I believe that all that use sorceries, incantations, 
and spells, are not Witches, or, as we term them, Magicians. I 
conceive there is a traditional Magick, not learned immediately 
from the Devil, but at second hand from his Scholars, who, having 
once the secret betrayed, are able, and do emperically practise with- 
out his advice, they both proceeding upon the principles of Nature; 
where actives, aptly conjoyned to disposed passives, will under any 
Master produce their effects. Thus I think at first a great part of 
Philosophy was Witchcraft; which, being afterward derived to one 
another, proved but Philosophy, and was indeed no more but the 
honest effects of Nature: what, invented by us, is Philosophy, learned 
from him, is Magick. We do surely owe the discovery of many se- 


66 Transform. 67 Sexual desires. 
68 MS. copies read "detection." The allusion has not been explained. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 28 3 
crets to the discovery of good and bad Angels. I could never pass 
that sentence of Paracelsus without an asterisk or annotation; As- 
cendens constellatum multa revelat quærentibus magnalia naturæ, 
(i. e. opera DEI.)69 [The ascending constellation reveals to inquirers 
many of nature's great things.] I do think that many mysteries 
ascribed to our own inventions have been the courteous revelations 
of Spirits; (for those noble essences in Heaven bear a friendly re- 
gard unto their fellow Natures on Earth;) and therefore believe 
that those many prodigies and ominous prognosticks, which fore- 
run the ruines of States, Princes, and private persons, are the chari- 
table premonitions of good Angels, which more careless enquiries 
term but the effects of chance and nature. 
XXXII. Now, besides these particular and divided Spirits, there 
may be (for ought I know,) an universal and common Spirit to 
the whole Wodd. It was the opinion of Plato, and it is yet of the 
Hermetical Philosophers. If there be a common nature that unites 
and tyes the scattered and divided individuals into one species, why 
may there not be one that unites them all? However, I am sure 
there is a common Spirit that plays within us, yet makes no part 
of us; and that is, the Spirit of GOD, the fire and scintillation of that 
noble and mighty Essence, which is the life and radical heat of 
Spirits, and those essences that know not the vertue of the Sun; a 
fire quite contrary to the fire of Hell. This is that gentle heat that 
brooded on the waters, and in six days hatched the World; this is 
that irradiation that dispels the mists of Hell, the clouds of horrour, 
fear, sorrow, despair; and preserves the region of the mind in se- 
renity. Whosoever feels not the warm gale and gentle ventilation 
of this Spirit, though I feel his pulse, I dare not say he lives: for 
truely, without this, to me there is no heat under the Tropick; nor 
any light, though I dwelt in the body of the Sun. 


As, when the labouring Sun hath wrought his track 
Up to the top of lofty Cancers back, 
The ycie Ocean cracks, the frozen pole 
Thaws with the heat of the Celestial coale; 
So, when Thy absent beams begin t' impart 
Again a Solstice on my frozen heart, 
69 "Thereby is meant our good angel appointed us from our nativity!"-T. B. 



28 4 


THOMAS BROWNE 
My winter's ov'r, my dropping spirits sing, 
And every part revives into a Spring. 
But if Thy quickning beams a while decline, 
And with their light bless not this Orb of mine, 
A chilly frost surpriseth every member, 
And in the midst of June I feel December. 
o how this earthly temper doth debase 
The noble Soul, in this her humble place; 
Whose wingy nature ever doth aspire 
To reach that place whence first it took its fire. 
These flames I feel, which in my heart do dwell, 
Are not Thy beams, but take their fire from Hell: 
o quench them all, and let Thy Light divine 
Be as the Sun to this poor Orb of mine; 
And to Thy sacred Spirit convert those fires, 
Whose earthly fumes choak my devout aspires. 
XXXIII. Therefore for Spirits, I am so far from denying their 
existence, that I could easily believe, that not onely whole Coun- 
tries, but particular persons, have their Tutelary and Guardian 
Angels. It is not a new opinion of the Church of Rome, but an 
old one of Pythagoras and Plato; there is no heresie in it; and if 
not manifestly defin'd in Scripture, yet is it an opinion of a good 
and wholesome use in the course and actions of a mans life, and 
would serve as an Hypothesis to salve many doubts, whereof com. 
mon Philosophy affordeth no solution. Now, if you demand my 
opinion and Metaphysicks of their natures, I confess them very 
shallow; most of them in a negative way, like that of GOD; or in a 
comparative, between ourselves and fellow-creatures; for there is 
in this Universe a Stair, or manifest Scale of creatures, rising not 
disorderly, or in confusion, but with a comely method and propor- 
tion. Between creatures of meer existence, and things of life, there 
is a large disproportion of nature; between plants, and animals or 
creatures of sense, a wider difference; between them and Man, a 
far greater: and if the proportion hold one, between Man and 
Angels there should be yet a greater. We do not comprehend their 
natures, who retain the first definition of Porphyry, and distinguish 
them from our selves by immortality; for before his Fall, 'tis thought, 
Man also was Immortal; yet must we needs affirm that he had a 
different essence from the Angels. Having therefore no certain 



RELIGIO MEDICI 285 
knowledge of their Natures, 'tis no bad method of the Schools, what- 
soever perfection we find obscurely in our selves, in a more compleat 
and absolute way to ascribe unto them. I believe they have an ex.. 
temporary knowledge, and upon the first motion of their reason 
do what we cannot without study or deliberation; that they know 
things by their forms, and define by specifical difference what we 
describe by accidents and properties; and therefore probabilities to 
us may be demonstrations unto them: that they have knowledge 
not onely of the specifical, but numerical forms of individuals, and 
understand by what reserved difference each single H ypostasis 70 (be- 
sides the relation to its species,) becomes its numerical self: that, 
as the Soul hath a power to move the body it informs, so there's a 
faculty to move any, though inform none: ours upon restraint of 
time, place, and distance; but that invisible hand that conveyed 
Habakkuk to the Lyons Den,71 or Philip to Azotus,72 infringeth this 
rule, and hath a secret conveyance, wherewith mortality is not ac- 
quainted. If they have that intuitive knowledge, whereby as in re- 
flexion they behold the thoughts of one another, I cannot peremp- 
torily deny but they know a great part of ours. They that, to refute 
the Invocation of Saints, have denied that they have any knowledge 
of our affairs below, have proceeded too far, and must pardon my 
opinion, till I can thoroughly answer that piece of Scripture, At 
the conversion of a sinner the Angels in Heaven rejoyce. I cannot, 
with those in that great Father,73 securely interpret the work of the 
first day, Fiat lux, [Let there be light] to the creation of Angels; 
though I confess, there is not any creature 74 that hath so neer a 
glympse of their nature as light in the Sun and Elements. We 
stile it a bare accident; but, where it subsists alone, 'tis a spiritual 
Substance, and may be an Angel: in brief, conceive light invisible, 
and that is a Spirit. 
XXXIV. These are certainly the Magisterial and masterpieces of 
the Creator, the Flower, or (as we may say,) the best part of 
nothing; actually existing, what we are but in hopes and probability. 
We are onely that amphibious piece between a corporal and spiritual 
Essence, that middle form that links those two together, and makes 


70 Distinct substance. 71 Bel and the Dragon, 36. 72 Acts viii. 40. 
73 The iclea is found in both St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine. 74 Created thing. 



286 THOMAS BROWNE 
good the Method of GOD and Nature, that jumps not from extreams, 
but unites the incompatible distances by some middle and partici- 
pating natures. That we are the breath and similitude of GOD, it 
is indisputable, and upon record of Holy Scripture; but to call our- 
selves a Microcosm, or little World, I thought it only a pleasant trope 
of Rhetorick, till my neer judgement and second thoughts told me 
there was a real truth therein. For first we are a rude mass, and 
in the rank of creatures which onely are, and have a dull kind of 
being, not yet priviledged with life, or preferred to sense or reason; 
next we live the life of Plants, the life of Animals, the life of Men, 
and at last the life of Spirits, running on in one mysterious nature 
those five kinds of existences, which comprehend the creatures not 
onely of the World, but of the Universe. Thus is Man that great 
and true Amphibium, whose nature is disposed to live, not onely 
like other creatures in divers elements, but in divided and distin- 
guished worlds: for though there be but one to sense, there are two 
to reason, the one visible, the other invisible; whereof Moses seems 
to have left description, and of the other so obscurely, that some 
parts thereof are yet in controversie. And truely, for the first chap- 
ters of Genesis, I must confess a great deal of obscurity; though Di- 
vines have to the power of humane reason endeavoured to make all 
go in a literal meaning, yet those allegorical interpretations are also 
probable, and perhaps the mystical method of Moses bred up in the 
Hieroglyphical Schools of the Egyptians. 
XXXV. Now for that immaterial world, methinks we need not 
wander so far as beyond the first moveable;75 for even in this ma- 
terial Fabrick the Spirits walk as freely exempt from the affection of 
time, place, and motion, as beyond the extreamest circumference. 
Do but extract from the corpulency of bodies, or resolve things be- 
yond their first matter, and you discover the habitation of Angels, 
which if I call the ubiquitary and omnipresent Essence of GOD, I 
hope I shall not offend Divinity: for before the Creation of the 
World GOD was really all things. For the Angels He created no 
new W orId, or determinate mansion, and therefore they are every- 
where where is His Essence, and do live at a distance even in Him- 
self. That GOD made all things for Man, is in some sense true, yet 
75 PTÏmttm mohile. the tenth sphere of the old astronomy. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 287 
not so far as to subordinate the Creation of those purer Creatures 
unto ours, though as ministring Spirits they do, and are willing to 
fulfill the will of GOD in these lower and sublunary affairs of Man. 
GOD made all things for Himself, and it is impossible He should 
make them for any other end than His own Glory; it is all H
 
can receive, and all that is without Himself. For, honour being an 
external adjunct, and in the honourer rather than in the person 
honoured, it was necessary to make a Creature, from whom He 
might receive this homage; and that is, in the other world, Angels, 
in this, Man; which when we neglect, we forget the very end of 
our Creation, and may justly provoke GOD, not onely to repent that 
He hath made the World, but that He hath sworn He would not 
destroy it. That there is but one World, is a conclusion of Faith: 
Aristotle with all his Philosophy hath not been able to prove it, 
and as weakly that the World was eternal. That dispute much 
troubled the Pen of the ancient Philosophers, but Moses decided that 
question, and all is salved with the new term of a Creation, that 
is, a production of something out of nothing. And what is that? 
whatsoever is opposite to something; or more exactly, that which 
is truely contrary unto GOD: for He onely is, all others have an 
existence with dependency, and are something but by a distinction. 
And herein is Divinity conformant unto Philosophy, and genera- 
tion not onely founded on contrarieties, but also creation; GOD, being 
all things, is contrary unto nothing, out of which were made all 
things, and so nothing became something, and Omneity informed 
Nullity into an Essence. 
XXXVI. The whole Creation is a mystery, and particularly that 
of Man. At the blast of His mouth were the rest of the Creatures 
made, and at His bare word they started out of nothing: but in the 
frame of Man (as the Text describes it,) He played the sensible 
operator, and seemed not so much to create, as make him. When 
He had separated the materials of other creatures, there conse- 
quently resulted a form and soul; but, having raised the walls of 
Man, He was driven to a second and harder creation of a sub- 
stance like Himself, an incorruptible and immortal Soul. For these 
two affections 76 we have the Philosophy and opinion of the Heath- 
76 Qualities. 



288 THOMAS BROWNE 
ens, the flat affirmative of Plato, and not a negative from Aristotle. 
There is another scruple cast in by Divinity concerning its produc- 
tion, much disputed in the Germane auditories, and with that in- 
differency and equality of arguments, as leave the controversie un- 
determined. I am not of Paracelsus mind, that boldly delivers a 
receipt to make a man without conjunction;77 yet cannot but won- 
der at the multitude of heads that do deny traduction,78 having no 
other argument to confirm their belief then that Rhetorical sen- 
tence and Antimetathesis 79 of Augustine, Creando infunditur, in- 
fundendo creature [By creating it is poured in, by pouring in it is 
created.] Either opinion will consist well enough with Religion: 
yet I should rather incline to this, did not one objection haunt me, 
(not wrung from speculations and subtilties, but from common sense 
and observation; not pickt from the leaves of any Author, but bred 
amongst the weeds and tares of mine own brain;) and this is a 
conclusion from the equivocal and monstrous productions in the 
conjunction of Man with Beast: for if the Soul of man be not 
transmitted and transfused in the seed of the Parents, why are not 
those productions meerly beasts, but have also an impression and 
tincture of reason in as high a measure as it can evidence it self 
in those improper Organs? Nor, truely, can I peremptorily deny 
that the Soul, in this her sublunary estate, is wholly and in all ac- 
ceptions 80 inorganical; but that for the performance of her ordinary 
actions there is required not onely a symmetry and proper disposi- 
tion of Organs, but a Crasis 81 and temper correspondent to its opera- 
tions: yet is not this mass of flesh and visible structure the instru- 
ment and proper corps of the Soul, but rather of Sense, and -that 
the hand of Reason. In our study of Anatomy there is a mass of 
mysterious Philosophy, and such as reduced the very Heathens to 
Divinity: yet, amongst all those rare discoveries and curious pieces 
I find in the Pabrick of Man, I do not so much content my self, as 
in that I find not, there is no Organ or Instrument for the rational 
Soul; for in the brain, which we term the seat of Reason, there is 
not anything of moment more than I can discover in the crany82 
17 Sexual intercourse. 78 Derivation (of the soul from the parents). 
19 The giving of two different meanings from two different arrangements of the 
same words. 80 Acceptations. 81 Constitution. 82 Skull. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 289 
of a beast: and this is a ..;-ensible and no inconsiderable argument 
of the inorganity of the S
)Ul, at least in that sense we usually so 
receive it. Thus we are I:1en, and we know not how: there is some- 
thing in us that can be without us, and will be after us; though it 
is strange that it hath no history what it was before us, nor cannot 
tell how it entred in us. 
XXXVII. Now, for these walls of flesh, wherein the Soul doth 
seem to be immured before the Resurrection, it is nothing but an 
elemental composition, and a Fabrick that must fall to ashes. All 
flesh is grass, is not onely metaphorically, but litterally, true; for 
all those creatures we behold are but the herbs of the field, digested 
into flesh in them, or more remotely carnified 83 in our selves. Nay 
further, we are what we all abhor, Anthropophagi and Cannibals, 
devourers not onely of men, but of our selves; and that not in an 
allegory, but a positive truth: for all this mass of flesh which we be- 
hold, came in at our mouths; this frame we look upon, hath been 
upon our trenchers; in brief, we have devour'd our selves. I cannot 
believe the wisdom of Pythagoras did ever positively, and in a lit- 
eral sense, affirm his Metempsychosis, or impossible transmigration 
of the Souls of men into beasts. Of all Metamorphoses or transmi- 
grations, I believe only one, that is of Lots wife; for that of Ne- 
buchodonosor proceeded not so far: in all others I conceive there is 
no further verity than is contained in their implicite sense and 
morality. I believe that the whole frame of a beast doth perish, and 
is left in the same state after death as before it was materialled unto 
life: that the Souls of men know neither contrary nor corruption; 
that they subsist beyond the body, and outlive death by the privi- 
ledge of their proper natures, and without a Miracle; that the Souls 
of the faithful, as they leave Earth, take possession of Heaven: that 
those apparitions and ghosts of departed persons are not the wan- 
dring souls of men, but the unquiet walks of Devils, prompting and 
suggesting us unto mischief, blood, and villany; instilling and steal- 
ing into our hearts that the blessed Spirits are not at rest in their 
graves, but wander sollicitous of the affairs of the vV orId. But that 
those phantasms appear often, and do frequent Cæmeteries, Charnel- 
83 Made flesh. 



29 0 THOMAS BROWNE 
houses, and Churches, it is because those are the dormitories of the 
dead, where the Devil, like an insolent Champion, beholds with 
pride the spoils and Trophies of his Victory over Adam. 
XXXVIII. This is that dismal conquest we all deplore, that makes 
us so often cry, 0 Adam, quid fecisti? [0 Adam, what hast thou 
done?] I thank GOD I have not those strait ligaments, or narrow 
obligations to the W orId, as to dote on life, or be convulst and 
tremble at the name of death. Not that I am insensible of the dread 
and horrour thereof; or by raking into the bowels of the deceased, 
continual sight of Anatomies, Skeletons, or Cadaverous reliques, 
like Vespilloes,84 or Grave-makers, I am become stupid, or have for- 
got the apprehension of Mortality; but that, marshalling all the 
horrours, and contemplating the extremities thereof, I find not any 
thing therein able to daunt the courage of a man, much less a well- 
resolved Christian; and therefore am not angry at the errour of our 
first Parents, or unwilling to bear a part of this common fate, and 
like the best of them to dye, that is, to cease to breathe, to take a 
farewel of the elements, to be a kind of nothing for a moment, to 
be within one instant of a Spirit. When I take a full view and 
circle of my self without this reasonable moderator, and equal piece 
of Justice, Death, I do conceive my self the miserablest person ex- 
tant. Were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of 
this W orId should not intreat a moments breath from me; could the 
Devil work my belief to imagine I could never dye, I would not 
outlive that very thought. I have so abject a conceit 85 of this com- 
mon way of existence, this retaining to the Sun and Elements, I 
cannot think this is to be a Man, or to live according to the dignity 
of humanity. In exspectation of a better, I can with patience em- 
brace this life, yet in my best meditations do often defie death; I 
honour any man that contemns it, nor can I highly love any that 
is afraid of it: this makes me naturally love a Souldier, and honour 
those tattered and contemptible Regiments that will die at the com- 
mand of a Sergeant. For a Pagan there may be some motives to be 
in love with life; but for a Christian to be amazed at death, I see 
not how he can escape this Dilemma, that he is too sensible of this 
life, or hopeless of the life to come. 
84 Latin, corpse-bearers. 85 Idea. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 29 I 
XXXIX. Some Divines count Adam thirty years old at his Crea. 
tion, because they suppose him created in the perfect age and stat
 
ure of man. And surely we are all out of the computation of our 
age, and every man is some months elder than he bethinks him; 
for we live, move, have a being, and are subject to the actions of 
the elements, and the malice of diseases, in that other World, the 
truest Microcosm, the Womb of our Mother. For besides that gen- 
eral and common existence we are conceived to hold in our Chaos, 
and whilst we sleep within the bosome of our causes, we enjoy a 
being and life in three distinct worlds, wherein we receive most 
manifest graduations. In that obscure World and Womb of our 
Mother, our time is short, computed by the Moon, yet longer then 
the days of many creatures that behold the Sun; our selves being 
not yet without life, sense, and reason; though for the manifesta- 
tion of its actions, it awaits the opportunity of objects, and seems to 
live there but in its root and soul of vegetation. Entring afterwards 
upon the scene of the World, we arise up and become another crea- 
ture, performing the reasonable actions of man, and obscurely mani- 
festing that part of Divinity in us; but not in complement 86 and per
 
fection, till we have once more cast our secondine,87 that is, this 
slough of flesh, and are delivered into the last World, that is, that 
ineffable place of Paul, that proper ubi 88 of Spirits. The smattering 
I have of the Philosophers Stone (which is something more than 
the perfect exaltation of gold,) hath taught me a great deal of Di- 
vinity, and instructed my belief, how that immortal spirit and in- 
corruptible substance of my Soul may lye obscure, and sleep a while 
within this house of flesh. Those strange and mystical transmigra- 
tions that I have observed in Silk-worms, turned my Philosophy into 
Divi
ity. There is in these works of nature, which seem to puzzle 
reason, something Divine, and hath more in it then the eye of a 
common spectator doth discover. 
XL. I am naturally bashful; nor hath conversation, age, or travel, 
been able to effront 89 or enharden me; yet I have one part of mod- 
esty which I have seldom discovered in another, that is, (to speak 
truely,) I am not so much afraid of death, as ashamed thereof. 'Tis 
86 Completeness. 87 After-birth. 88 Dwelling-place. 
89 Embolden. 



29 2 THOMAS BROWNE 
the very disgrace and ignominy of our natures, that in a moment 
can so disfigure us, that our nearest friends, Wife, and Children, 
stand afraid and start at us: the Birds and Beasts of the field, that 
before in a natural fear obeyed us, forgetting all allegiance, begin 
to prey upon us. This very conceit hath in a tempest disposed and 
left me willing to be swallowed up in the abyss of waters, wherein 
I had perished unseen, unpityed, without wondering eyes, tears of 
pity, Lectures of mortality, and none had said. 


Quantum mutatus ab iUo! 
[How changed from that man t] 
Not that I am ashamed of the Anatomy of my parts, or can accuse 
Nature for playing the bungler in any part of me, or my own vitious 
life for contracting any shameful disease upon me, whereby I might 
not call my self as wholesome a morsel for the worms as any. 
XLI. Some, upon the courage of a fruitful issue, wherein, as in 
the truest Chronicle, they seem to outlive themselves, can with 
greater patience away with death. This conceit and counterfeit sub- 
sisting in our progenies seems to me a meer fallacy, unworthy the 
desires of a man that can but conceive a thought of the next World; 
who, in a nobler ambition, should desire to live in his substance 
in Heaven, rather than his name and shadow in the earth. And 
therefore at my death I mean to take a total adieu of the World, 
not caring for a Monument, History or Epitaph, not so much as 
the bare memory of my name to be found any where but in the uni- 
versal Register of GOD. I am not yet so Cynical as to approve the 
Testament of Diogenes,90 nor do I altogether allow that Rodomon- 
tado 91 of Lucan, 
-Cæ/o tegitur, qui non habet urnam. 
He that unburied lies wants not his Herse, 
For unto him a Tomb's the Universe. 


but commend in my calmer judgement those ingenuous intentions 
that desire to sleep by the urns of their Fathers, and strive to go 
the neatest way unto corruption. I do not envy the temper of Crows 
90 "Who willed his friend not to bury him, but to hang him up with a staffe in 
his hand to fright away the crowes."-T. B. 91 Boastful utterance. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 293 
and Daws,92 nor the numerous and weary days of our Fathers before 
the Flood. If there be any truth in Astrology, I may outlive a Ju- 
bilee: 93 as yet I have not seen one revolution of Saturn,94 nor hath 
my pulse beat thirty years; and yet, excepting one, have seen the 
Ashes and left under ground all the Kings of Europe; have been 
contemporary to three Emperours, four Grand Signiours, and as 
many Popes. Methinks I have outlived my self, and begin to be 
weary of the Sun; I have shaken hands with delight, in my warm 
blood and Canicular 95 days, I perceive I do anticipate the vices of 
age; the World to me is but a dream or mock-show, and we all 
therein but Pantalones and Anticks, to my severer contemplations. 
XLII. It is not, I confess, an unlawful Prayer to desire to surpass 
the days of our Saviour, or wish to outlive that age wherein He 
thought fittest to dye; yet if (as Divinity affirms,) there shall be no 
gray hairs in Heaven, but all shall rise in the perfect state of men, 
we do but outlive those perfections in this W orId, to be recalled 
unto them by a greater Miracle in the next, and run on here but 
to be retrograde hereafter. Were there any hopes to outlive vice, 
or a point to be super-annuated from sin, it were worthy our knees 
to implore the days of Methuselah. But age doth not rectify, but 
incurvate 96 our natures, turning bad dispositions into worser habits, 
and (like diseases,) brings on incurable vices; for every day as we 
grow weaker in age, we grow stronger in sin, and the number of 
our days doth but make our sins innumerable. The same vice com- 
mitted at sixteen, is not the same, though it agree in all other cir- 
cumstances, at forty, but swells and doubles from the circumstance 
of our ages; wherein, besides the constant and inexcusable habit 
of transgressing, the maturity of our judgement cuts off pretence 
unto excuse or pardon. Every sin, the oftner it is committed, the 
more it acquireth in the quality of evil; as it succeeds in time, so it 
proceeds in degrees of badness; for as they proceed they ever mul- 
tiply, and, like figures in Arithmetick, the last stands for more than 
all that went before it. And though I think no man can live well 
once, but he that could live twice, yet for my own part I would 
not live over my hours past, or begin again the thread of my days: 
92 These birds were supposed to live several times the length of human life. 
93 Fifty years. 94 Thirty years. 
95 Dog-days: here, figuratively, for young manhood. 96 Make crooked. 



294 THOMAS BROWNE 
not upon Cicero's ground, because I have lived them well, but for 
fear I should live them worse. I find my growing Judgment daily 
instruct me how to be better, but my untamed affections and con- 
firmed vitiosity makes me daily do worse. I find in my confirmed 
age the same sins I discovered in my youth; I committed many then, 
because I was a Child; and because I commit them still, I am yet an 
infant. Therefore I perceive a man may be twice a Child, before the 
days of dotage; and stand in need of Æsons Bath 97 before threescore. 
XLIII. And truly there goes a great deal of providence to produce 
a mans life unto threescore: there is more required than an able 
temper for those years; though the radical humour 98 contain in it 
sufficient oyl for seventy, yet I perceive in some it gives no light past 
thirty: men assign not all the causes of long life, that write whole 
Books thereof. They that found themselves on the radical balsome,99 
or vital sulphur 99 of the parts, determine not why Abel lived not so 
long as Adam. There is therefore a secret glome lOO or bottom lOO of 
our days: 'twas His wisdom to determine them, but His perpetual 
and waking providence that fulfils and accompli sheth them; wherein 
the spirits, ourselves, and all the creatures of GOD in a secret and dis- 
puted way do execute His will. Let them not therefore complain of 
immaturity that die about thirty; they fall but like the whole World, 
whose solid and well-composed substance must not expect the dura- 
tion and period of its constitution: when all things are completed 
in it, its age is accomplished; and the last and general fever may as 
naturally destroy it before six thousand, as me before forty. There 
is therefore some other hand that twines the thread of life than that 
of Nature: we are not onely ignorant in Antipathies and occult 
qualities; our ends are as obscure as our beginnings; the line of our 
days is drawn by night, and the various effects therein by a pensil 
that is invisible; wherein though we confess our ignorance, I am sure 
we do not err if we say it is the hand of GOD. 
XLIV. I am much taken with two verses of Lucan, since I have 
been able not onely, as we do at School, to construe, but understand: 
Victurosque Dei celant, ut vivere durent, 
Felix esse mori. 101 
97 For restoring youth. 98 The moisture essential to vitality according to the old 
physIOlogy. 99 Supposed sources of longevity. 100 Ball (of worsted). 101 Lucan's 
"Pharsalia," iv. 510. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 
We're all deluded, vainly searching ways 
To make us happy by the length of days; 
For cunningly to make's protract this breath, 
The Gods conceal the happiness of Death. 
There be many excellent strains in that Poet, wherewith his Stoical 
Genius hath liberally supplied him; and truely there are singular 
pieces in the Philosophy of Zeno, and doctrine of the Stoicks, which 
I perceive, delivered in a Pulpit, pass for current Divinity: yet herein 
are they in extreams, that can allow a man to be his own Assassine, 
and so highly extol the end and suicide of Cato. This is indeed not 
to fear death, but yet to be afraid of life. It is a brave act of valour 
to contemn death; but where life is more terrible than death, it is 
then the truest valour to dare to live. And herein Religion hath 
taught us a noble example; for all the valiant acts of Curtius, 
Scevola, or Codrus, do not parallel or match that one of Job; and 
sure there is no torture to the rack of a disease, nor any Ponyards in 
death it self like those in the way or prologue to it. 


295 


Emori nolo, sed me esse mortuum nihil curo. 102 
I would not die, but care not to be dead. 


Were I of Cæsar's Religion, I should be of his desires, and wish 
rather to go off at one blow, then to be sawed in pieces by the grating 
torture of a disease. Men that look no farther than their outsides, 
think health an appurtenance unto life, and quarrel with their con- 
stitutions for being sick; but I, that have examined the parts of man, 
and know upon what tender filaments that Fabrick hangs, do wonder 
that we are not always so; and, considering the thousand doors that 
lead to death, do thank my GOD that we can die but once. 'Tis not 
onely the mischief of diseases, and the villany of poysons, that make 
an end of us; we vainly accuse the fury of Guns, and the new inven- 
tions of death; it is in the power of every hand to destroy us, and 
we are beholding unto everyone we meet, he doth not kill us. There 
is therefore but one comfort left, that, though it be in the power of 
the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to de- 
prive us of death: GOD would not exempt Himself from that, the 
misery of immortality in the flesh, He undertook not that was im- 
102 Quoted by Cicero, "Tusc. Quæst." i. 8, from Epicharmus. 



296 THOMAS BROWNE 
mortal. Certainly there is no happiness within this circle of flesh, 
nor is it in the Opticks of these eyes to behold felicity. The first day 
of our] ubilee is Death; the Devil hath therefore failed of his desires: 
we are happier with death than we should have been without it: 
there is no misery but in himself, where there is no end of misery; 
and so indeed, in his own sense, the Stoick103 is in the right. He for- 
gets that he can dye who complains of misery; we are in the power 
of no calamity while death is in our own. 
XLV. Now, besides this literal and positive kind of death, there 
are others whereof Divines make mention, and those, I think, not 
meerly Metaphorical, as mortification, dying unto sin and the WorId. 
Therefore, I say, every man hath a double Horoscope, one of his 
humanity, his birth; another of his Christianity, his baptism; and 
from this do I compute or calculate my Nativity, not reckoning those 
Horæ combustæ 10 ! and odd days, or esteeming my self any thing, 
before I was my Saviours, and inrolled in the Register of CHRIST. 
Whosoever enjoys not this life, I count him but an apparition, though 
he wear about him the sensible affections 105 of flesh. In these moral 
acceptions,106 the way to be immortal is to dye daily: nor can I 
think I have the true Theory of death, when I contemplate a skull, 
or behold a Skeleton, with those vulgar imaginations it casts upon 
us; I have therefore enlarged that common Memento mori, [Re- 
member you must die] into a more Christian memorandum, Me- 
mento quatuor Novissima, [Remember the four last things] those 
four inevitable points of us all, Death, Judgement, Heaven, and 
Hell. Neither did the contemplations of the Heathens rest in their 
graves, without a further thought of Rhadamanth,t07 or some judicial 
proceeding after death, though in another way, and upon suggestion 
of their natural reasons. I cannot but marvail from what Sibyl or 
Oracle they stole the Prophesie of the W orIds destruction by fire, or 
whence Lucan learned to say, 
Communis mundo superest rogus. ossibus astra 
Misturus. 108 
There yet remains to th' World one common Fire, 
Wherein our bones with stars shall make one Pyre. 
103 In holding that death is no evil. 
104 Combust hours, "when the moon is in conjunction and obscured by the sun:' 
105 Qualities. 106 Acceptations. 107 Judge in Hades. lOB "Pbarsalia" vü. 8140 



RELIGIO MEDICI 297 
I believe the ,V orId grows near its end, yet is neither old nor decayed, 
nor shall ever perish upon the ruines of its own Principles. As the 
work of Creation was above Nature, so is its adversary, annihilation; 
without which the W orId hath not its end, but its mutation. Now 
what force should be able to consume it thus far, without the breath 
of GOD, which is the truest consuming flame, my Philosophy cannot 
inform me. Some believe there went not a minute to the W orIds 
creation, nor shall there go to its destruction; those six days, so punc- 
tually described, make not to them one moment, but rather seem to 
manifest the method and Idea of the great work of the intellect of 
GOD, than the manner how He proceeded in its operation. I cannot 
dream that there should be at the last day any such Judicial pro- 
ceeding, or calling to the Bar, as indeed the Scripture seems to imply, 
and the literal Commentators do conceive: for unspeakable mysteries 
in the Scriptures are often delivered in a vulgar and illustrative way; 
and, being written unto man) are delivered, not as they truely are, 
but as they may be understood; wherein, notwithstanding, the dif- 
ferent interpretations according to different capacities may stand 
firm with our devotion, nor be any way prejudicial to each single 
edification. 
XLVI. Now to determine the day and year of this inevitable time, 
is not onely convincible 109 and statute-madness,l1o but also manifest 
impiety. How shall we interpret Elias six thousand years,1l1 or 
imagine the secret communicated to a Rabbi, which GOD hath de- 
nyed unto His Angels? It had been an excellent Quære 112 to have 
posed the Devil of Delphos,113 and must needs have forced him to 
some strange amphibology.114 It hath not onely mocked the predic- 
tions of sundry Astrologers in Ages past, but the prophesies of many 
melancholy heads in these present; who, neither understanding 
reasonably things past or present, pretend a knowledge of things to 
come: heads ordained onely to manifest the incredible effects of 
melancholy, and to fulfil old prophecies rather than be the authors 
of new. In those days there shall come Wars and rurnours of Wars, 
to me seems no prophecy, but a constant truth, in all times verified 
since it was pronounced. There shall be signs in the Moon and Stars; 
109 Capable of proof. 110 Madness defined by Jaw. 111 The time of the exist- 
ence of the world, according to a tradition ascribed to the school of Elijah in the 
Talmud. 112 Question. 113 The oracl
 of Apollo. 114 Ambiguity. 



298 THOMAS BROWNE 
how comes He then like a Thief in the night, when He gives an item 
of His Coming? That common sign drawn from the revelation of 
Antichrist, is as obscure as any: in our common compute He hath 
been come these many years: but for my own part, (to speak freely,) 
I am half of opinion that Antichrist is the Philosopher's stone in 
Divinity, for the discovery and invention whereof, though there be 
prescribed rules and probable inductions, yet hath hardly any man 
attained the perfect discovery thereof. That general opinion that the 
World grows near its end, hath possessed all ages past as nearly as 
ours. I am afraid that the Souls that now depart, cannot escape 
that lingring expostulation of the Saints under the Altar, Quousque, 
DOMINE? How long, 0 LORD? and groan in the expectation of 
that great Jubilee. 
XLVII. This is the day that must make good that great attribute 
of GOD, His Justice; that must reconcile those unanswerable doubts 
that torment the wisest understandings; and reduce those seeming 
inequalities and respective distributions in this world, to an equality 
and recompensive Justice in the next. This is that one day, that shall 
include and comprehend all that went before it; wherein, as in the 
last scene, all the Actors must enter, to compleat and make up the 
Catastrophe of this great piece. This is the day whose memory hath 
onely power to make us honest in the dark, and to be vertuous with- 
out a witness. 


Ipsa sui pretium virtus sibi,115 


that Vertue is her own reward, is but a cold principle, and not able 
to maintain our variable resolutions in a constant and setled way of 
goodness. I have practised that honest artifice of Seneca, and in my 
retired and solitary imaginations, to detain me from the foulness 
of vice, have fancied to my self the presence of my dear and worthi- 
est friends, before whom I should lose my head, rather than be 
vitious: yet herein I found that there was nought but moral honesty, 
and this was not to be vertuous for His sake Who must reward us 
at the last. I have tryed if I could reach that great resolution of his, 
to be honest without a thought of Heaven or Hell: and indeed I 
found, upon a natural inclination and inbred loyalty unto virtue, 
115 Claudian, "De Mallii Theod. Consul:' v. I. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 299 
that I could serve her without a livery,116 yet not in that resolved 
and venerable way, but that the frailty of my nature, upon an easie 
temptation, might be induced to forget her. The life, therefore, and 
spirit of all our actions is the resurrection, and a stable apprehension 
that our ashes shall enjoy the fruit of our pious endeavours: with- 
out this, all Religion is a Fallacy, and those impieties of Lucian, 
Euripides, and Julian, are no blasphemies, but subtle verities, and 
Atheists have been the onely Philosophers. 
XLVIII. How shall the dead arise, is no question of my Faith; to 
believe only possibilities, is not Faith, but meer Philosophy. Many 
things are true in Divinity, which are neither inducible by reason, 
nor confirmable by sense; and many things in Philosophy confirm- 
able by sense, yet not inducible by reason. Thus it is impossible by 
any solid or demonstrative reasons to perswade a man to believe the 
conversion ll7 of the Needle to the North; though this be possible, 
and true, and easily credible, upon a single experiment unto the sense. 
I believe that our estranged and divided ashes shall unite again; that 
our separated dust, after so many Pilgrimages and transformations 
into the parts of Minerals, Plants, Animals, Elements, shall at the 
Voice of GOD return into their primitive shapes, and joyn again to 
make up their primary and predestinate forms. As at the Creation 
there was a separation of that confused mass into its species; so at 
the destruction thereof there shall be a separation into its distinct 
individuals. As at the Creation of the W orId, all the distinct species 
that we behold lay involved in one mass, till the fruitful Voice of 
GOD separated this united multitude into its several species; so at the 
last day, when those corrupted reliques shall be scattered in the Wil- 
derness of forms, and seem to have forgot their proper habits, GOD 
by a powerful Voice shall command them back into their proper 
shapes, and call them out by their single individuals. Then shall 
appear the fertility of Adam, and the magick of that sperm 118 that 
hath dilated into so many millions. I have often beheld as a miracle, 
that artificial resurrection and revivification 119 of Mercury, how being 
mortified into a thousand shapes, it assumes again its own, and 
returns into its numericap20 self. Let us speak naturally and like 


116 Reward. 117 Turning. 118 Seed. 119 Restoration to its own form. 
120 Individual. 



300 THOMAS BROWNE 
Philosophers, the forms of alterable bodies in these sensible corrup- 
tions perish not; nor, as we imagine, wholly quit their mansions, 
but retire and contract themselves into their secret and unaccessible 
parts, where they may best protect themselves from the action of 
their Antagonist. A plant or vegetable consumed to ashes to a con- 
templative and school-Philosopher seems utterly destroyed, and the 
form to have taken his leave for ever; but to a sensible Artist the 
forms are not perished, but withdrawn into their incombustible part, 
where they lie secure from the action of that devouring element. 
This is made good by experience, which can from the Ashes of a 
Plant revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalk 
and leaves again. What the Art of man can do in these inferiour 
pieces, what blasphemy is it to affirm the finger of GOD cannot do in 
these more perfect and sensible structures! This is that mystical Phi- 
losophy, from whence no true Scholar becomes an Atheist, but from 
the visible effects of nature grows up a real Divine, and beholds not 
in a dream, as Ezekiel, but in an ocular and visible object, the types 
of his resurrection. 
XLIX. Now, the necessary Mansions of our restored selves are 
those two contrary and incompatible places we call Heaven and Hell. 
To define them, or strictly to determine what and where these are, 
surpasseth my Divinity. That elegane 21 Apostle/ 22 which seemed to 
have a glimpse of Heaven, hath left but a negative description 
thereof; which neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard, nor can 
enter into the heart of man: he was translated out of himself to be- 
hold it; but, being returned into himself, could not express it. St. 
John's description by Emerals, Chrysolites, and precious Stones, is 
too weak to express the material Heaven we behold. Briefly there- 
fore, where the Soul hath the full measure and complement of happi- 
ness; where the boundless appetite of that spirit remains compleatly 
satisfied, that it can neither desire addition nor alteration; that, I 
think, is truly Heaven: and this can onely be in the injoyment of 
that essence, whose infinite goodness is able to terminate the desires 
of it self, and the unsatiable wishes of ours: wherever GOD will thus 
manifest Himself, there is Heaven, though within the circle of this 
sensible world. Thus the Soul of man may be in Heaven any where, 
121 Perhaps for eloquent. 122 St. Paul. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 01 
even within the limits of his own proper body; and when it ceaseth 
to live in the body, it may remain in its own soul, that is, its Creator: 
and thus we may say that St. Paul, whether in the body, or out of the 
body, was yet in Heaven. To place it in the Empyreal, or beyond 
the tenth sphear, is to forget the world's destruction; for, when this 
sensible world shall be destroyed, all shall then be here as it is now 
there, an Empyreal Heaven, a quasi vacuity; when to ask where 
Heaven is, is to demand where the Presence of GOD is, or where we 
have the glory of that happy vision. Moses, that was bred up in all 
the learning of the Egyptians, committed a gross absurdity in Phi- 
losophy, when with these eyes of flesh he desired to see GOD, and 
petitioned his Maker, that is, Truth it self, to a contradiction. Those 
that imagine Heaven and Hell neighbours, and conceive a vicinity 
between those two extreams, upon consequence of the Parable, where 
Dives discoursed with Lazarus in Abraham's bosome, do too grosly 
conceive of those glorified creatures, whose eyes shall easily out-see 
the Sun, and behold without a perspective 123 the extreamest dis- 
tances: for if there shall be in our glorified eyes, the faculty of sight 
and reception of objects, I could think the visible species there to be 
in as unlimitable a way as now the intellectual. I grant that two 
bodies placed beyond the tenth sphear, or in a vacuity, according to 
Aristotle's Philosophy, could not behold each other, because there 
wants a body or Medium to hand and transport the visible rays of 
the object unto the sense; but when there shall be a general defect 
of either Medium to convey, or light to prepare and dispose that 
Medium, and yet a perfect vision, we must suspend the rules 
of our Philosophy, and make all good by a more absolute piece of 
opucks. 
L. I cannot tell how to say that fire is the essence of Hell: I know 
not what to make of Purgatory, or conceive a flame that can either 
prey upon, or purifie the substance of a Soul. Those flames of Sul- 
phur mention'd in the Scriptures, I take not to be understood of this 
present Hell, but of that to come, where fire shall make up the com- 
plement of our tortures, and have a body or subject wherein to mani- 
fest its tyranny. Some, who have had the honour to be textuary in 
Divinity, are of opinion it shall be the same specifical fire with ours. 
123 Telescope. 



302 THOMAS BROWNE 
This is hard to conceive; yet can I make good how even that may 
prey upon our bodies, and yet not consume us: for in this material 
World there are bodies that persist invincible in the powerfullest 
flames; and though by the action of fire they fall into ignition and 
liquation, yet will they never suffer a destruction. I would gladly 
know how Moses with an actual fire calcined or burnt the Golden 
Calf unto powder: for that mystical metal of Gold, whose solarylz.i 
and celestial nature I admire, exposed unto the violence of fire, grows 
onely hot, and liquifies, but consumeth not; so, when the con- 
sumable and volatile pieces of our bodies shall be refined into a more 
impregnable and fixed temper like Gold, though they suffer from 
the action of flames, they shall never perish, but lye immortal in the 
arms of fire. And surely, if this frame must suffer onely by the action 
of this element, there will many bodies escape; and not onely Heaven, 
but Earth will not be at an end, but rather a beginning. For at pres- 
ent it is not earth, but a composition of fire, water, earth, and air; 
but at that time, spoiled of these ingredients, it shall appear in a sub- 
stance more like it self, its ashes. Philosophers that opinioned the 
worlds destruction by fire, did never dream of annihilation, which 
is beyond the power of sublunary causes; for the last and proper ac- 
tion of that element is but vitrification, or a reduction of a body into 
glass; and therefore some of our Chymicks facetiously affirm, that 
at the last fire all shall be christallized and reverberated into glass, 
which is the utmost action of that element. Nor need we fear this 
term, annihilation, or wonder that GOD will destroy the works of His 
Creation; for man subsisting, who is, and will then uuely appear, 
a Microcosm, the world cannot be said to be destroyed. For 
the eyes of GOD, and perhaps also of our glorified selves, shall as 
reall y behold and contemplate the World in its Epitome or con- 
tracted essence, as now it doth at large and in its dilated substance. 
In the seed of a Plant to the eyes of GOD, and to the understanding 
of man, there exists, though in an invisible way, the perfect leaves, 
flowers, and fruit thereof; for things that are in posse to the sense, 
are actually existent to the understanding. Thus GOD beholds all 
things, Who contemplates as fully His works in their Epitome, as 
in their full volume; and beheld as amply the whole world in that 
124 Solar. Astrology associated gold with the sun. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 0 3 
little compendium of the sixth day, as in the scattered and dilated 
pieces of those five before. 
LI. Men commonly set forth the torments of Hell by fire, and the 
extremity of corporal affiictions, and describe Hell in the same 
method that Mahomet doth Heaven. This indeed makes a noise, 
and drums in popular ears: but if this be the terrible piece thereof, 
it is not worthy to stand in diameter 125 with Heaven, whose happi- 
ness consists in that part that is best able to comprehend it, that 
immortal essence, that translated divinity and colony of GOD, the 
Soul. Surely, though we place Hell under Earth, the Devil's walk 
and purlue is about it: men speak too popularly who place it in those 
flaming mountains, which to grosser apprehensions represent Hell. 
The heart of man is the place the Devils dwell in: I feel sometimes a 
Hell within my self; Lucifer keeps his Court in my breast, Legion is 
revived in me. There are as many Hells, as Anaxagoras conceited 
worlds. l26 There was more than one Hell in Magdalene, when there 
were seven Devils, for every Devil is an Hell unto himself; he holds 
enough of torture in his own ubi, and needs not the misery of cir- 
cumference to affiict him: and thus a distracted Conscience here, is 
a shadow or introduction unto Hell hereafter. Who can but pity the 
merciful intention of those hands that do destroy themselves? the 
Devil, were it in his power, would do the like; which being impos- 
sible, his miseries are endless, and he suffers most in that attribute 
wherein he is impassible,127 his immortality. 
LII. I thank GOD, and with joy I mention it, I was never afraid of 
Hell, nor never grew pale at the description of that place. I have 
so fixed my contemplations on Heaven, that I have almost forgot 
the Idea of Hell, and am afraid rather to lose the Joys of the one, 
than endure the misery of the other: to be deprived of them is a per- 
fect Hell, and needs, methinks, no addition to compleat our affiic- 
tions. That terrible term hath never detained me from sin, nor do I 
owe any good action to the name thereof. I fear GOD, yet am not 
afraid of Him: His Mercies make me ashamed of my sins, before 
His Judgements afraid thereof. These are the forced and secondary 
method of His wisdom, which He useth but as the last remedy, and 


125 In opposition to. 126 1. e., an infinite number. The doctrine belongs to 
Anaxarchus. 127 Exempt from decay. 



3 0 4 


THOMAS BROWNE 


upon provocation; a course rather to deter the wicked, than incite 
the virtuous to His worship. I can hardly think there was ever any 
scared into Heaven; they go the fairest way to Heaven that would 
serve GOD without a Hell; other Mercenaries, that crouch into Him 
in fear of Hell, though they term themselves the servants, are indeed 
but the slaves, of the Almighty. 
LIn. And to be true, and speak my soul, when I survey the occur- 
rences of my life, and call into account the Finger of GOD, I can 
perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies, either in gen- 
eral to mankind, or in particular to my self. And (whether out of 
the prejudice of my affection, or an inverting and partial conceit of 
His mercies, I know not; but) those which others term crosses, 
afllictions, judgements, misfortunes, to me, who inquire farther 
into them then their visible effects, they both appear, and in event 
have ever proved, the secret and dissembled favours of His affec- 
tion. It is a singular piece of Wisdom to apprehend truly, and with- 
out passion the Works of GOD, and so well to distinguish His Justice 
from His Mercy, as not to miscall those noble Attributes: yet it is 
likewise an honest piece of Logick, so to dispute and argue the pro- 
ceedings of GOD, as to distinguish even His judgments into mercies. 
For GOD is merciful unto all, because better to the worst than the best 
deserve; and to say He punisheth none in this W orId, though it be a 
Paradox, is no absurdity. To one that hath committed Murther, if 
the Judge should only ordain a Fine, it were a madness to call this 
a punishment, and to repine at the sentence, rather than admire the 
clemency of the Judge. Thus, our offences being mortal, and deserv- 
ing not only Death, but Damnation, if the goodness of GOD be con- 
tent to traverse and pass them over with a loss, misfortune, or disease, 
what frensie were it to term this a punishment, rather than an ex- 
tremity of mercy, and to groan under the rod of His Judgements, 
rather than admire the Scepter of His Mercies! Therefore to adore, 
honour, and admire Him, is a debt of gratitude due from the obliga- 
tion of our nature, states, and conditions; and with these thoughts, 
He that knows them best, will not deny that I adore Him. That 
I obtain Heaven, and the bliss thereof, is accidental, and not the 
intended work of my devotion; it being a felicity I can neither 
think to deserve, nor scarce in modesty to expect. For these two 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 0 5 
ends of us all, either as rewards or punishments, are mercifully or- 
dained and disproportionably disposed unto our actions; the one 
being so far beyond our deserts, the other so infinitely below our 
demerits. 
LIV. There is no Salvation to those that believe not in CHRIST, 
that is, say some, since His Nativity, and, as Divinity affirmeth, 
before also; which makes me much apprehend 128 the ends of those 
honest Worthies and Philosophers which dyed before His Incarna- 
tion. It is hard to place those Souls in Hell, whose worthy lives do 
teach us Virtue on Earth; methinks, amongst those many subdi- 
visions of Hell, there might have been one Limbo left for these. 
What a strange vision will it be to see their Poetical fictions con- 
verted into Verities, and their imagined and fancied Furies into real 
Devils! How strange to them will sound the History of Adam, 
when they shall suffer for him they never heard of! when they who 
derive their genealogy from the Gods, shall know they are the un- 
happy issue of sinful man! It is an insolent part of reason, to contro- 
vert the works of GOD, or question the Justice of His proceedings. 
Could Humility teach others, as it hath instructed me, to contem- 
plate the infinite and incomprehensible distance betwixt the Creator 
and the Creature; or did we seriously perpend that one simile of St. 
Paul, Shall the Vessel say to the Potter, uW hy hast thou made me 
thus?" it would prevent these arrogant disputes of reason; nor 
would we argue the definitive sentence of GOD, either to Heaven or 
Hell. Men that live according to the right rule and law of reason, 
live but in their own kind, as beasts do in theirs; who justly obey 
the prescript of their natures, and therefore cannot reasonably de- 
mand a reward of their actions, as onely obeying the natural dic- 
tates of their reason. It will, therefore, and must at last appear, that 
all salvation is through CHRIST; which verity, I fear, these great 
examples of virtue must confirm, and make it good how the perfect- 
est actions of earth have no title or claim unto Heaven. 
LV. Nor truely do I think the lives of these, or of any other, 
were ever correspondent, or in all points conformable, unto their doc- 
trines. It is evident that Aristotle transgressed the rule of his own 
Ethicks. The Stoicks that condemn passion, and command a man 
128 Contemplate with fear. 



306 THOMAS BROWNE 
to laugh in Phalaris l29 his Bull, could not endure without a groan 
a fit of the Stone or Colick. The Scepticks that affirmed they knew 
nothing, even in that opinion confute themselves, and thought they 
knew more than all the Wodd beside. Diogenes I hold to be the 
most vain-glorious man of his time, and more ambitious in refusing 
all Honours, than Alexander in rejecting none. Vice and the Devil 
put a Fallacy upon our Reasons, and, provoking us too hastily to run 
from it, entangle and profound us deeper in it. The Duke of Venice, 
that weds himself unto the Sea by a Ring of Gold, I will not argue 
of prodigality, because it is a solemnity of good use and consequence 
in the State; but the Philosopher that threw his money into the Sea 
to avoid Avarice, was a notorious prodigal. There is no road or 
ready way to virtue: it is not an easie point of art to disentangle our 
selves from this riddle, or web of Sin. To perfect virtue, as to Relig- 
ion, there is required a Panoplia, or compleat armour; that, whilst 
we lye at close ward against one Vice, we lye not open to the venny1:0 
of another. And indeed wiser discretions that have the thred of 
reason to conduct them, offend without pardon; whereas under- 
heads may stumble without dishonour. There go so many circum- 
stances to piece up one good action, that it is a lesson to be good, and 
we are forced to be virtuous by the book. Again, the Practice of 
men holds not an equal pace, yea, and often runs counter to their 
Theory: we naturally know what is good, but naturally pursue what 
is evil: the Rhetorick wherewith I perswade another, cannot per- 
swade my self. There is a depraved appetite in us, that will with 
patience hear the learned instructions of Reason, but yet perform no 
farther than agrees to its own irregular humour. In brief, we all 
are monsters, that is, a composition of Man and Beast, wherein we 
must endeavor to be as the Poets fancy that wise man Chiron,l31 that 
is, to have the Region of Man above that of Beast, and Sense to 
sit but at the feet of Reason. Lastly, I do desire with GOD that all, 
but yet affirm with men that few, shall know Salvation; that the 
bridge is narrow, the passage strait, .unto life: yet those who do con- 
fine the Church of GOD, either to particular Nations, Churches, or 
Families, have made it far narrower than our Saviour ever meant it. 


129 A Sicilian tyrant of the 6th century B. c., who sacrificed human beings in a 
heated brazen bull. 130 Assault. 131 The Centaur. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 0 7 
LVI. The vulgarity of those judgements that wrap the Church of 
GOD in Strabo's cloak/ 32 and restrain it unto Europe, seem to me as 
bad Geographers as Alexander, who thought he had Conquer'd all 
the W orId, when he had not subdued the half of any part thereof. 
For we cannot deny the Church of GOD both in Asia and Africa, if 
we do not forget the Peregrinations of the Apostles, the deaths of the 
Martyrs, the Sessions of many and (even in our reformed judge- 
ment) lawful Councils, held in those parts in the minority and 
nonage of ours. Nor must a few differences, more remarkable in the 
eyes of man than perhaps in the judgement of GOD, excommunicate 
from Heaven one another; much less those Christians who are in a 
manner all Martyrs, maintaining their Faith in the noble way of 
persecution, and serving GOD in the Fire, whereas we honour him 
but in the Sunshine. 'Tis true we all hold there is a number of 
Elect, and many to be saved; yet, take our Opinions together, and 
from the confusion thereof there will be no such thing as salvation, 
nor shall anyone be saved. For first, the Church of Rome con- 
demneth us, we likewise them; the Subreformists and Sectaries sen- 
tence the Doctrine of our Church as damnable; the Atomist,133 or 
Familist/ 34 reprobates all these; and all these, them again. Thus, 
whilst the Mercies of GOD do promise us Heaven, our conceits and 
opinions exclude Ui from that place. There must be, therefore, more 
than one St. Peter: particular Churches and Sects usurp the gates of 
Heaven, and turn the key against each other; and thus we go to 
Heaven against each others wills, conceits, and opinions, and, with as 
much uncharity as ignorance, do err, I fear, in points not only of 
our own, but one anothers salvation. 
LVII. I believe many are saved, who to man seem reprobated; and 
many are reprobated, who, in the opinion and sentence of man, stand 
elected. There will appear at the Last day strange and unexpected 
examples both of His Justice and His Mercy; and therefore to de- 
fine either, is folly in man, and insolency even in the Devils. Those 
acute and subtil spirits, in all their sagacity, can hardly divine who 
shall be saved; which if they could Prognostick, their labour were 
at an end, nor need they compass the earth seeking whom they may 
132 Strabo compared the known world of his time to a cloak. 
133 Apparently a sect of Browne's time. 
134 One of the sect called "The Family of Love." 



308 THOMAS BROWNE 
devour. Those who, upon a rigid application of the Law, sentence 
Solomon unto damnation, condemn not onely him, but themselves, 
and the whole World: for, by the Le&.cer and written Word of GOD, 
we are without exception in the state of Death; but there is a pre- 
rogative of GOD, and an arbitrary pleasure above the Letter of His 
own Law, by which alone we can pretend unto Salvation, and 
through which Solomon might be as easily saved as those who 
condemn him. 
LVIII. The number of those who pretend unto Salvation, and 
those infinite swarms who think to pass through the eye of this 
Needle, have much amazed me. That name and compellation of 
little Flock, doth not comfort, but deject, my Devotion; especially 
when I reflect upon mine own unworthiness, wherein, according to 
my humble apprehensions, 1 am below them all. 1 believe there shall 
never be an Anarchy in Heaven; but, as there are Hierarchies 
amongst the Angels, so shall there be degrees of priority amongst 
the Saints. Yet is it (I protest,) beyond my ambition to aspire unto 
the first ranks; my desires onely are (and 1 shall be happy therein,) 
to be but the last man, and bring up the Rere in Heaven. 
LIX. Again, I am confident and fully perswaded, yet dare not 
take my oath, of my Salvation. I am as it were sure, and do believe 
without all doubt, that there is such a City as Constantinople; yet for 
me to take my Oath thereon were a kind of Perjury, because I hold 
no infallible warrant from my own sense to confirm me in the cer- 
tainty thereof. And truly, though many pretend an absolute cer- 
tainty of their Salvation, yet, when an humble Soul shall contem- 
plate her own unworthiness, she shall meet with many doubts, and 
suddenly find how little we stand in need of the Precept of St. Paul, 
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. That which is 
the cause of my Election, I hold to be the cause of my Salvation, 
which was the mercy and beneplacie 35 of GOD, before I was, or the 
foundation of the World. Before Abraham was, I am, is the saying 
of CHRIST; yet is it true in some sense, if I say it of my self; for I 
was not onely before my self, but Adam, that is, in the Idea of GOD, 
and the decree of that Synod held from all Eternity. And in this 
sense, 1 say, the World was before the Creation, and at an end 
135 Good pleasure. 



RELtGIO MEDICI 309 
before it had a beginning; and thus was I dead before I was alive: 
though my grave be England, my dying place was Paradise: and 
Eve miscarried of me before she conceiv'd of Cain. 
LX. Insolent zeals/ 36 that do decry good Works and rely onely 
upon Faith, take not away merit: for, depending upon the efficacy 
of their Faith, they enforce the condition of GOD, and in a more 
sophistical way do seem to challenge Heaven. It was decreed by 
GOD, that only those that lapt in the water like Dogs, should have 
the honour to destroy the Midianites; yet could none of those justly 
challenge, or imagine he deserved, that honour thereupon. I do 
not dent but that true Faith, and such as GOD requires, is not onely 
a mark or token, but also a means, of our Salvation; but where to 
find this, is as obscure to me as my last end. And if our Saviour 
could object unto His own Disciples and Favourites, a Faith, that, 
to the quantity of a grain of Mustard-seed, is able to remove Moun- 
tains; surely, that which we boast of, is not any thing, or at the most, 
but a remove from nothing. This is the Tenor of my belief; wherein 
though there be many things singular, and to the humour of my 
irregular self, yet, if they square not with maturer Judgements, I 
disclaim them, and do no further father them, than the learned and 
best judgements shall authorize them. 


136 Zealots. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 


THE SECOND PART 


N ow for that other Virtue of Charity, without which Faith 
is a meer notion, and of no existence, I have ever endeav- 
oured to nourish the merciful disposition and humane in- 
clination I borrowed from my Parents, and regulate it to the written 
and prescribed Laws of Charity. And if I hold the true Anatomy 
of my self, I am delineated and naturally framed to such a piece of 
virtue; for I am of a constitution so general, that it consorts and 
sympathiseth with all things. I have no antipathy, or rather Idiosyn- 
crasie, in dyet, humour, air, any thing. I wonder not at the French 
for their dishes of Frogs, Snails and Toadstools, nor at the Jews for 
Locusts and Grasshoppers; but being amongst them, make them my 
common Viands, and I find they agree with my Stomach as well as 
theirs. I could digest a Salad gathered in a Church-yard, as well as 
in a Garden. I cannot start at the presence of a Serpent, Scorpion, 
Lizard, or Salamander: at the sight of a Toad or Viper, I find in 
me no desire to take up a stone to destroy them. I feel not in my 
self those common Antipathies that I can discover in others: those 
National repugnances do not touch me, nor do I behold with prej- 
udice the French, Italian, Spaniard, or Dutch: but where I find 
their actions in balance with my Country-men's, I honour, love, and 
embrace them in the same degree. I was born in the eighth Climate, l 
but seem for to be framed and constellated unto all. I am no Plant 
that will not prosper out of a Garden. All places, all airs, make unto 
me one Countrey; I am in England every where, and under any 
Meridian. I have been shipwrackt, yet am not enemy with the Sea 
or Winds; I can study, play, or sleep in a Tempest. In brief, I am 
averse from nothing: my Conscience would give me the lye if I 
should say I absolutely detest or hate any essence but the Devil; or 
1 Region of the earth's surface, used like our degrees of latitude. 
3 10 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 I I 
so at least abhor any thing, but that we might come to composition. 
If there be any among those common objects of hatred I do con- 
temn and laugh at, it is that great enemy of Reason, Virtue and Reli- 
gion,the Multitude: that numerous piece of monstrosity, which, taken 
asunder, seem men, and the reasonable creatures of GOD; but, con- 
fused together, make but one great beast, and a monstrosity more 
prodigious than Hydra. It is no breach of Charity to call these Fools; 
it is the style all holy Writers have afforded them, set down by Solo- 
mon in Canonical Scripture, and a point of our Faith to believe so. 
Neither in the name of Multitude do lonely include the base and 
minor sort of people; there is a rabble even amongst the Gentry, a 
sort of Plebeian heads, whose fancy moves with the same wheel as 
these; men in the same Level with Mechanicks, though their for- 
tunes do somewhat guild their infirmities, and their purses com- 
pound for their follies. But as, in casting account, three or four men 
together come short in account of one man placed by himself below 
them; so neither are a troop of these ignorant DoradoeSZ of that true 
esteem and value, as many a forlorn person, whose condition doth 
place him below their feet. Let us speak like Politicians: 3 there is a 
Nobility without Heraldry, a natural dignity, whereby one man is 
ranked with another, another filed before him, according to the 
quality of his Desert, and preheminence of his good parts. Though 
the corruption of these times and the byas of present practice 
wheel another way, thus it was in the first and primitive Common- 
wealths, and is yet in the integrity and Cradle of well-order'd Polities, 
till corruption getteth ground; ruder desires labouring after that 
which wiser considerations contemn, everyone having a liberty to 
amass and heap up riches, and they a licence or faculty to do or 
purchase any thing. 
II. This general and indifferent temper of mine doth more neerly 
dispose me to this noble virtue. It is a happiness to be born and 
framed unto virtue, and to grow up from the seeds of nature, rather 
than the inoculation and forced graffs of education: yet if we are 
directed only by our particular Natures, and regulate our inclina- 
tions by no higher rule than that of our reasons, we are but Moralists; 
Divinity will still call us Heathens. Therefore this great work of 
2 Spanish, the name of a fish: her e=f ools. 3 Statesmen. 



3 I2 THOMAS BROWNE 
charity must have other motives, ends, and impulsions. I give no 
alms only to satisfie the hunger of my Brother, but to fulfil and ac- 
complish the Will and Command of my GOD: I draw not my purse 
for his sake that demands it, but His That enjoyned it: I relieve no 
man upon the Rhetorick of his miseries, nor to content mine own 
commiserating disposition; for this is still but moral charity, and an 
act that oweth more to passion than reason. He that relieves another 
upon the bare suggestion and bowels of pity, doth not this, so much 
for his sake as for his own; for by compassion we make others 
misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve our selves also. 
It is as erroneous a conceit to redress other Mens misfortunes upon 
the common considerations of merciful natures, that it may be one 
day our own case; for this is a sinister and politick kind of charity, 
whereby we seem to bespeak the pities of men in the like occasions. 
And truly I have observed that those professed Eleemosynaries, 
though in a croud or multitude, do yet direct and place their peti- 
tions on a few and selected persons: there is surely a Physiognomy, 
which those experienced and Master Mendicants observe, whereby 
they instant! y discover a merciful aspect, and will single out a face 
wherein they spy the signatures and marks of Mercy. For there are 
mystically in our faces certain Characters which carry in them the 
motto of our Souls, wherein he that cannot read A. B. C. may read 
our natures. I hold moreover that there is a Phytognomy, or Physi- 
ognomy, not only of Men, but of Plants and Vegetables; and in 
everyone of them some outward figures which hang as signs or 
bushes 4 of their inward forms. The Finger of GOD hath left an In- 
scription upon all His works, not graphical or composed of Letters, 
but of their several forms, constitutions, parts, and operations, which, 
aptly joyned together, do make one word that doth express their 
natures. By these Letters GOD calls the Stars by their names; and by 
this Alphabet Adam assigned to every creature a name peculiar to 
its Nature. Now there are, besides these Characters in our Faces, 
certain mystical figures in our Hands, which I dare not call meer 
dashes, strokes à la volée, or at random, because delineated by a Pen- 
cil that never works in vain; and hereof I take more particular notice, 
because I carry that in mine own hand which I could never read 
4 Bushes were hung out as signs before tavern doors. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 13 
of nor discover in another. Aristotle, I confess, in his acute and singu- 
lar Book of Physiognomy, hath made no mention of Chiromancy; 
yet I believe the Egyptians, who were neerer addicted to those ab- 
struse and mystical sciences, had a knowledge therein, to which those 
vagabond and counterfeit Egyptians 5 did after pretend, and perhaps 
retained a few corrupted orinciples, which sometimes might verifie 
their prognosticks. 
It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions 
of faces, there should be none alike: now contrary, I wonder as 
much how there should be any. He that shall consider how many 
thousand several words have been carelessly and without study com- 
posed out of twenty-four Letters; withal, how many hundred lines 
there are to be drawn in the F abrick of one Man, shall easily find 
that this variety is necessary; and it will be very hard that they shall 
so concur as to make one portract like another. Let a Painter care- 
lesly limb out a million of Faces, and you shall find them all differ- 
ent; yea, let him have his Copy before him, yet after all his art there 
will remain a sensible distinction; for the pattern or example of 
every thing is the perfectest in that kind, whereof we still come short, 
though we transcend or go beyond it, because herein it is wide, and 
agrees not in all points unto the copy. Nor doth the similitude of 
Creatures disparage the variety of Nature, nor any way confound 
the Works of GOD. For even in things alike there is diversity; and 
those that do seem to accord do manifestly disagree. And thus is 
man like GOD; for in the same things that we resemble Hilll, we are 
utterly different from Him. There W3.S never anything so like an- 
other as in all points to concur: there will ever some reserved differ- 
ence slip in, to prevent the identity; without which, two several 
things would not be alike, but the same, which is impossible. 
III. But to return from Philosophy to Charity: I hold not so 
narrow a conceit of this virtue, as to conceive that to give Alms is 
onely to be Charitable, or think a piece of Liberality can comprehend 
the Total of Charity. Divinity hath wisely divided the act thereof 
into many branches, and hath taught us in this narrow way many 
paths unto goodness; as many ways as we may do good, so many 
ways we may be charitable. There are infirmities not onely of Body, 
5 Gipsies. 



3 1 4 THOMAS BROWNE 
but of Soul, and Fortunes, which do require the merciful hand of our 
abilities. I cannot contemn a man for ignorance, but behold him 
with as much pity as I do Lazarus. It is no greater Charity to cloath 
his body, than apparel the nakedness of his Soul. It is an honour- 
able object to see the reasons of other men wear our Liveries, and 
their borrowed understandings do homage to the bounty of ours: 
it is the cheapest way of beneficence, and, like the natural charity of 
the Sun, illuminates another without obscuring itself. To be reserved 
and caitiff in this part of goodness, is the sordidest piece of covetous- 
ness, and more contemptible than pecuniary Avarice. To this (as 
calling my self a Scholar,) I am obliged by the duty of my condi- 
tion: I make not therefore my head a grave, but a treasure, of knowl- 
edge; I intend no Monopoly, but a community, in learning; I study 
not for my own sake only, but for theirs that study not for them- 
selves. I envy no man that knows more than my self, but pity them 
that know less. I instruct no man as an exercise of my knowledge, 
or with intent rather to nourish and keep it alive in mine own head 
then beget and propagate it in his: and in the midst of all my endeav- 
ours there is but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired 
parts must perish with my self, nor can be Legacied among my hon- 
oured Friends. I cannot fall out or contemn a man for an errour, 
or conceive why a difference in Opinion should divide an affection; 
for Controversies, Disputes, and Argumentations, both in Philos- 
ophy and in Divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable na- 
tures, do not infringe the Laws of Charity. In all disputes, so much 
as there is of passion, so much there is of nothing to the purpose; 
for then Reason, like a bad Hound, spends upon a false Scent, and 
forsakes the question first started. And this is one reason why Con- 
troversies are never determined; for, though they be amply proposed, 
they are scarce at all handled, they do so swell with unnecessary 
Digressions; and the Parenthesis on the party is often as large as the 
main discourse upon the subject. The Foundations of Religion are 
already established, and the Principles of Salvation subscribed unto 
by all: there remains not many controversies worth a Passion; and 
yet never any disputed without, not only in Divinity, but inferiour 
Arts. What a ßarpaxop.vop.axía6 and hot skirmish is betwixt S. and 
6 Battle of the Frogs and Mice. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 15 
T. in LucianF How do Grammarians hack and slash for the Geni- 
tive case in Jupiter!8 How do they break their own pates to salve that 
of Priscian! 


Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus. 
[If he were on earth, Democritus would laugh.] 
Yea, even amongst wiser militants, how many wounds have been 
given, and credits slain, for the poor victory of an opinion or beg- 
gerly conquest of a distinction! Scholars are men of Peace, they bear 
no Arms, but their tongues are sharper than Actius his razor;9 their 
Pens carry farther, and give a louder report than Thunder: I had 
rather stand the shock of a Basilisco,IO than the fury of a merciless 
Pen. It is not meer Zeal to Learning, or Devotion to the Muses, that 
wiser Princes Patron the Arts, and carry an indulgent aspect unto 
Scholars; but a desire to have their names eternized by the 
memory of their writings, and a fear of the revengeful Pen of suc- 
ceeding ages; for these are the men, that, when they have played 
their parts, and had their exits, must step out and give the moral of 
their Scenes, and deliver unto Posterity an Inventory of their Virtues 
and Vices. And surely there goes a great deal of Conscience to the 
compiling of an History: there is no reproach 11 to the scandal of a 
Story; it is such an authentick kind of falshood that with authority 
belies our good names to all Nations and Posterity. 
IV. There is another offence unto Charity, which no Author hath 
ever written of, and few take notice of; and that's the reproach, not 
of whole professions, mysteries, and conditions, but of whole Nations, 
wherein by opprobrious Epithets we miscall each other, and by an 
uncharitable Logick, from a disposition in a few, conclude a habit 
in all. 


Le mutin Anglois, et Ie bravache Escossois, 
Et Ie jol François, 
Le poultron Romain, Ie larron de Gascongne, 
L'Espagnol superbe, et r Aleman yvrongne. 
[The stubborn Englishman, the swaggering Scot, the foolish French- 
man, the coward Roman, the Gascon thief, the proud Spaniard, and the 
drunken German.] 
7 In Lucian's "Judicium Vocalium," where the letter S accuses T of interference 
with the other consonants. 8 Whether Jupiteris or Jovis. 9 Which cut through 
a whetstone. 10 A kind of cannon. 11 Because it is believed. 



316 THOMAS BROWNE 
St. Paul, that calls the Cretians lyars/ 2 doth it but indirectly, and 
upon quotation of their own Poet. 13 It is as bloody a thought in one 
way, as Nero'sl4 was in another; for by a word we wound a thou- 
sand, and at one blow assassine the honour of a Nation. It is as 
compleat a piece of madness to miscal and rave against the times, or 
think to recal men to reason by a fit of passion. Democritus, that 
thought to laugh the times into goodness, seems to me as deeply 
Hypochondriack as Heraclitus, that bewailed them. It moves not 
my spleen to behold the multitude in their proper humours, that is, 
in their fits of folly and madness; as well understanding that wis- 
dom is not prophan'd unto the World, and 'tis the priviledge of a 
few to be Vertuous. They that endeavour to abolish Vice, destroy 
also Virtue; for contraries, though they destroy one another, are yet 
the life of one another. Thus Virtue (abolish vice,) is an Idea. 
Again, the community1S of sin doth not disparage goodness; for when 
Vice gains upon the major part, Virtue, in whom it remains, be- 
comes more excellent; and being lost in some, multiplies its good- 
ness in others which remain untouched and persist intire in the 
general inundation. I can therefore behold Vice without a Satyr, 
content only with an admonition, or instructive reprehension; for 
Noble Natures, and such as are capable of goodness, are railed into 
vice, that might as easily be admonished into virtue; and we should 
be all so far the Orators of goodness, as to protect her from the power 
of Vice, and maintain the cause of injured truth. No man can justly 
censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows 
another. This I perceive in my self; for I am in the dark to all the 
world, and my nearest friends beheld me but in a cloud. Those that 
know me but superficially, think less of me than I do of my self; 
those of my neer acquaintance think more; GOD, Who truly knows 
me, knows that I am nothing; for He only beholds me and all the 
world, Who looks not on us through a derived ray, or a trajection 16 
of a sensible species, but beholds the substance without the helps of 
accidents, and the forms of things as we their operations. Further, 
no man can judge another, because no man knows himself: for we 


12 "Titus" i. 12. 13 Epimenides. 
14 Perhaps a confusion with Caligula. who wished that the whole Roman people 
had one neck. IS Prevalence. 16 Emission. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 I 7 
censure others but as they disagree from that humour which we 
fancy laudable in our selves, and commend others but for that 
wherein they seem to quadrate 17 and consent with us. So that, in 
conclusion, all is but that we all condemn, Self-love. 'Tis the gen- 
eral complaint of these times, and perhaps of those past, that charity 
grows cold; which I perceive most verified in those which most do 
manifest the fires and flames of zeal; for it is a virtue that best 
agrees with coldest natures, and such as are complexioned for hu- 
mility. But how shall we expect Charity towards others, when we are 
uncharitable to our selves? Charity begins at home, is the voice of 
the World; yet is every man his greatest enemy, and, as it were, 
his own Executioner. Non oecides, [Thou shalt not kill] is the 
Commandment of GOD, yet scarce observed by any man; for I per- 
ceive every man is his own Atropos/8 and lends a hand to cut the 
thred of his own days. Cain was not therefore the first Murtherer, 
but Adam, who brought in death; whereof he beheld the practice 
and example in his own son Abel, and saw that verified in the expe- 
rience of another, which faith could not perswade him in the Theory 
of himself. 
V. There is, I think, no man that apprehends his own miseries less 
than my self, and no man that so neerly apprehends anothers. I 
could lose an arm without a tear, and with few groans, methinks; 
be quartered into pieces; yet can I weep most seriously at a Play, 
and receive with true passion the counterfeit grief of those known 
and professed Impostures. It is a barbarous part of inhumanity to 
add unto any affiicted parties misery, or indeavour to multiply in any 
man a passion whose single nature is already above his patience. 
This was the greatest affiiction of Job, and those oblique expostula- 
tions of his Friends a deeper injury than the down-right blows of the 
Devil. It is not the tears of our own eyes only, but of our friends 
also, that do exhaust the current of our sorrows; which, falling into 
many streams, runs more peaceably, and is contented with a nar- 
rower channel. It is an act within the power of charity, to translate 
a passion out of one breast into another, and to divide a sorrow 
almost out of it self; for an affiiction, like a dimension, maybe so 
divided, as, if not indivisible, at least to become insensible. Now 
11 Square. 18 The Fate who cuts the thread of life. 



318 THOMAS BROWNE 
with my friend I desire not to share or participate, but to engross, 
his sorrows; that, by making them mine own, I may more easily 
discuss them; for in mine own reason, and within my self, I can 
command that which I cannot intreat without my self, and within 
the circle of another. I have often thought those noble pairs and 
examples of friendship not so truly Histories of what had been, as 
fictions of what should be; but I now perceive nothing in them but 
possibilities, nor anything in the Heroick examples of Damon and 
Pythias, Achilles and Patroclus, which methinks upon some grounds 
I could not perform within the narrow compass of my self. That a 
man should lay down his life for his Friend, seems strange to vulgar 
affections, and such as confine themselves within that Worldly 
principle, Charity begins at home. For mine own part I could never 
remember the relations that I held unto my self, nor the respect that 
I owe unto my own nature, in the cause of GOD, my Country, and my 
Friends. Next to these three, I do embrace my self. I confess I do 
not observe that order that the Schools ordain our affections, to love 
our Parents, Wives, Children, and then our Friends; for, excepting 
the injunctions of Religion, I do not find in my self such a necessary 
and indissoluble Sympathy to all those of my blood. I hope I do not 
break the fifth Commandment, if I conceive I may love my friend 
before the nearest of my blood, even those to whom I owe the 
principles of life. I never yet cast a true affection on a woman; but 
I have loved my friend as I do virtue, my soul, my GOD. From 
hence me thinks I do conceive how GOD loves man, what happiness 
there is in the love of GOD. Omitting all other, there are three most 
mystical unions: I. two natures in one person; 2. three persons in one 
nature; 3. one soul in two bodies; for though indeed they be really 
divided, yet are they so united, as they seem but one, and make 
rather a duality than two distinct souls. 
VI. There are wonders in true affection: it is a body of Enigma's, 
mysteries, and riddles; wherein two so become one, as they both 
become two. I love my friend before my self, and yet methinks I 
do not love him enough: some few months hence my multiplied 
affection will make me believe I have not loved him at all. When I 
am from him, I am dead till I be with him; when I am with him, I 
am not satisfied, but would still be nearer him. United souls are 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 19 
not satisfied with imbraces, but desire to be truly each other; which 
being impossible, their desires are infinite, and must proceed with- 
out a possibility of satisfaction. Another misery there is in affection, 
that whom we truly love like our own selves, we forget their looks, 
nor can our memory retain the Idea of their faces; and it is no won- 
der, for they are our selves, and our affection makes their looks 
our own. This noble affection falls not on vulgar and common con- 
stitutions, but on such as are mark'd for virtue: he that can love his 
friend with this noble ardour, will in a competent degree affect all. 
Now, if we can bring our affections to look beyond the body, and 
cast an eye upon the soul, we have found out the true object, not only 
of friendship, but Charity; and the greatest happiness that we can 
bequeath the soul, is that wherein we all do place our last felicity, 
Salvation; which though it be not in our power to bestow, it is 
in our charity and pious invocations to desire, if not procure and 
further. I cannot contentedly frame a prayer for my self in particu- 
lar, without a catalogue for my friends; nor request a happiness, 
wherein my sociable disposition doth not desire the fellowship of my 
neighbour. I never hear the Toll of a passing Bell, though in my 
mirth, with out my prayers and best wishes for the departing spirit; 
I cannot go to cure the body of my patient, but I forget my profes- 
sion, and call unto GOD for his soul; I cannot see one say his prayers, 
but, in stead of imitating him, I fall into a supplication for him, 
who perhaps is no more to me than a common nature: and if GOD 
hath vouchsafed an ear to my supplications, there are surely many 
happy that never saw me, and enjoy the blessing of mine unknown 
devotions. To pray for Enemies, that is, for their salvation, is no 
harsh precept, but the practice of our daily and ordinary devotions. I 
cannot believe the story of the Italian :19 our bad wishes and un- 
charitable desires proceed no further than this life; it is the Devil, 
and the uncharitable votes of Hell, that desire our misery in the 
world to come. 
VII. To do no injury, nor take none, was a principle, which to my 
former years and impatient affections seemed to contain enough of 
Morality; but my more setled years and Christian constitution have 
19 Who killed his enemy after inducing him to blaspheme, that he might go to 
hell. 



320 THOMAS BROWNE 
fallen upon severer resolutions. I can hold there is no such thing as 
injury; that, if there be, there is no such injury as revenge, and no 
such revenge as the contempt of an injury; that to hate another, 
is to malign himself; that the truest way to love another, is to despise 
our selves. I were unjust unto mine own Conscience, if I should say 
I am at variance with any thing like my self. I find there are many 
pieces in this one fabrick of man; this frame is raised upon a mass of 
Antipathies. I am one methinks, but as the World; wherein not- 
withstanding there are a swarm of distinct essences, and in them 
another World of contrarieties; we carry private and domestic ene- 
mies within, publick and more hostile adversaries without. The 
Devil, that did but buffet St. Paul, plays methinks at sh arp 20 with me. 
Let me be nothing, if within the compass of my self I do not find 
the battail of Lepanto/ 1 Passion against Reason, Reason against 
Faith, Faith against the Devil, and my Conscience against all. There 
is another man within me, that's angry with me, rebukes, com- 
mands, and dastards me. I have no Conscience of Marble to resist 
the hammer of more heavy offences; nor yet so soft and waxen, as 
to take the impression of each single peccadillo or scape of infirmity. 
I am of a strange belief, that it is as easie to be forgiven some sins, 
as to commit some others. For my Original sin, I hold it to be washed 
away in my Baptism: for my actual transgressions, I compute and 
reckon with GOD but from my last repentance, Sacrament, or general 
absolution; and therefore am not terrified with the sins or madness 
of my youth. I thank the goodness of GOD, I have no sins that want 
a name; I am not singular in offences; my transgressions are Epi- 
demical, and from the common breath of our corruption. For there 
are certain tempers of body, which, matcht with an humorous de- 
pravity of mind, do hatch and produce vitiosities, whose newness 
and monstrosity of nature admits no name: this was the temper of 
that Lecher that fell in love with a Statua, and the constitution of 
Nero in his Spintrian 22 recreations. For the Heavens are not only 
fruitful in new and unheard-of stars, the Earth in plants and animals, 
but mens minds also in villany and vices. Now the dulness of my 
reason, and the vulgarity23 of my disposition, never prompted my 


20 Fights in earnest. 


21 "Used for a deadly contest." 
23 Commonplaceness. 


%2 Obscene. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 2 I 
invention, nor solicited my affection unto any of these; yet even 
those common and quotidian infirmities that so necessarily attend 
me, and do seem to be my very nature, have so dejected me, so 
broken the estimation that I should have otherwise of my self, that 
I repute my self the most abjectest piece of mortality. Divines pre- 
scribe a fit of sorrow to repentance: there goes indignation, anger, 
sorrow, hatred, into mine; passions of a contrary nature, which 
neither seem to sute with this action, nor my proper constitution. 
It is no breach of charity to our selves, to be at variance with our 
Vices, nor to abhor that part of us which is an enemy to the ground 
of charity, our GOD; wherein we do but imitate our great selves, the 
world, whose divided Antipathies and contrary faces do yet carry a 
charitable regard unto the whole, by their particular discords pre- 
serving the common harmony, and keeping in fetters those powers, 
whose rebellions, once Masters, might be the ruine of all. 
VIII. I thank GOD, amongst those millions of Vices I do inherit 
and hold from Adam, I have escaped one, and that a mortal enemy 
to Charity, the first and father-sin, not onely of man, but of the 
devil, Pride: a vice whose name is comprehended in a Monosyllable, 
but in its nature not circumscribed with a W orId. I have escaped it 
in a condition that can hardly avoid it. Those petty acquisitions 
and reputed perfections that advance and elevate the conceits of 
other men, add no feathers unto mine. I have seen a Grammarian 
towr and plume himself over a single line in Horace, and shew 
more pride in the construction of one Ode, than the Author in the 
composure of the whole book. For my own part, besides the Jargon 
and Patois of several Provinces, I understand no less than six Lan- 
guages; yet I protest I have no higher conceit of my self, than had 
our Fathers before the confusion of Babel, when there was but one 
Language in the W orId, and none to boast himself either Linguist 
or Critick. I have not onely seen several Countries, beheld the na- 
ture of their Climes, the Chorograph y 24 of their Provinces, Topog- 
raphy of their Cities, but understood their several Laws, Customs, 
and Policies; yet cannot all this perswade the dulness of my spirit 
unto such an opinion of my self, as I behold in nimbler and con- 
ceited heads, that never looked a degree beyond their Nests. I know 
24 Description. 



322 THOMAS BROWNE 
the names, and somewhat more, of all the constellations in my Hori- 
zon; yet I have seen a prating Mariner, that could onely name the 
pointers and the North Star, out-talk me, and conceit himself a whole 
Sphere above me. I know most of the Plants of my Countrey, and 
of those about me; yet methinks I do not know so many as when I 
did but know a hundred, and had scarcely ever Simpled 25 further 
than Cheap-side. 26 For, indeed, heads of capacity, and such as are not 
full with a handful or easie measure of knowledge, think they know 
nothing till they know all; which being impossible, they fall upon 
the opÍnion of Socrates, and only know they know not anything. I 
cannot think that Homer pin'd away upon the riddle of the fisher- 
men; or that Aristotle, who understood the uncertainty of knowl- 
edge, and confessed so often the reason of man too weak for the 
works of nature, did ever drown himself upon the flux and reflux 
of Euripus. We do but learn to-day what our better advanced 
judgements will unteach to morrow; and Aristotle doth but instruct 
us, as Plato did him; that is, to confute himself. I have run through 
all sorts, yet find no rest in any: though our first studies and junior 
endeavours may style us Peripateticks, Stoicks, or Academicks; yet I 
perceive the wisest heads prove, at last, almost all Scepticks, and 
stand like Janus 27 in the field of knowledge. I have therefore one 
common and authentick Philosophy I learned in the Schools, 
whereby I discourse and satisfy the reason of other men; another 
more reserved, and drawn from experience, whereby I content mine 
own. Solomon, that complained of ignorance in the height of 
knowledge, hath not only humbled my conceits, but discouraged my 
endeavours. There is yet another conceit 28 that hath sometimes made 
me shut my books, which tells me it is a vanity to waste our days 
in the blind pursuit of knowledge; it is but attending a little longer, 
and we shall enjoy that by instinct and infusion, which we endeav- 
our at here by labour and inquisition. It is better to sit down in a 
modest ignorance, and rest contented with the natural blessing of our 
own reasons, than buy the uncertain knowledge of this life with 
sweat and vexation, which Death gives every fool gratis, and is an 
accessary of our glorification. 


25 Botanized. 26 A great herb market in the 17th century. 27 A Roman dcity 
whose statues had two faces looking in opposite directions. 28 Idea. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 2 3 
IX. I was never yet once, and commend their resolutions who 
never marry twice: not that I disallow of second marriage; as neither, 
in all cases, of Polygamy, which, considering some times, and the un- 
equal number of both sexes, may be also necessary. The whole 
W orId was made for man, but the twelfth part of man for woman: 
Man is the whole World, and the Breath of GOD; Woman the Rib 
and crooked piece of man. I could be content that we might procre- 
ate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to 
perpetuate the World without this trivial and vulgar way of union: 
it is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life; nor is there 
any thing that will more deject his cool'd imagination, when he shall 
consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed. 
I speak not in prej udice, nor am averse from that sweet Sex, but 
naturally amorous of all that is beautiful. I can look a whole day 
with delight upon a handsome Picture, though it be but of an 
Horse. It is my temper, and I like it the better, to affect all harmony; 
and sure there is musick even in the beauty, and the silent note 
which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument. 
For there is a musick where ever there is a harmony, order, or pro- 
portion: and thus far we may maintain the music of the Sphears; 
for those well-ordered motions, and regular paces, though they give 
no sound unto the ear, yet to the understanding they strike a note 
most full of harmony. Whatsoever is harmonically composed de- 
lights in harmony; which makes me much distrust the symmetry of 
those heads which declaim against all Church-Musick. For my self, 
not only for my obedience, but my particular Genius, I do em- 
brace it: for even that vulgar and Tavern-Musick, which makes one 
man merry, another mad, strikes in me a deep fit of devotion, and a 
profound contemplation of the First Composer. There is some- 
thing in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers: it is an Hiero- 
glyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole World, and creatures of 
GOD; such a melody to the ear, as the whole World, well under- 
stood, would afford the understanding. In brief, it is a sensible fit 
of that harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of GOD. I 
will not say, with Plato, the soul is an harmony, but harmonical, and 
hath its nearest sympathy unto Musick: thus some, whose temper of 
body agrees, and humours the constitution of their souls, are born 



324 THOMAS BROWNE 
Poets, though indeed all are naturally inclined unto Rhythme. 
This made Tacitus, in the very first line of his Story, fall upon a 
verse; and Cicero, the worst of Poets, but declaiming for a Poet, falls 
in the very first sentence upon a perfect Hexameter. I feel not in me 
those sordid and unchristian desires of my profession; I do not 
secretly implore and wish for Plagues, rejoyce at Famines, revolve 
Ephemerides 29 and Almanacks in expectation of malignant As- 
pects,30 fatal Conjunctions/ o and Eclipses. 3o I rejoyce not at unwhole- 
some Springs, nor unseasonable Winters: my Prayer goes with the 
Husbandman's; I desire every thing in its proper season, that neither 
men nor the times be put out of temper. Let me be sick my self if 
sometimes the malady of my patient be not a disease unto me. I 
desire rather to cure his infirmities than my own necessities. Where 
I do him no good, methinks it is scarce honest gain; though I confess, 
'tis but the worthy salary of our well-intended endeavours. I am 
not only ashamed, but heartily sorry, that, besides death, there are 
diseases incurable: yet not for my own sake, or that they be beyond 
my Art, but for the general cause and sake of humanity, whose 
common cause I apprehend as mine own. And to speak more gen- 
erally, those three Noble Professions which all civil Commonwealths 
do honour, are raised upon the fall of Adam, and are not any way 
exempt from their infirmities; there are not only diseases incurable 
in Physick, but cases indissolvable in Laws, Vices incorrigible in 
Divinity. If General Councils may err, I do not see why particular 
Courts should be infallible; their perfectest rules are raised upon 
the erroneous reasons of Man, and the Laws of one do but condemn 
the rules of another; as Aristotle oft-times the opinions of his Prede- 
cessours, because, though agreeable to reason, yet were not conso- 
nant to his own rules, and the Logick of his proper Principles. 
Again, (to speak nothing of the Sin against the HOLY GHOST, whose 
cure not onely but whose nature is unknown,) I can cure the Gout 
or Stone in some, sooner than Divinity, Pride or Avarice in others. 
I can cure Vices by Physick when they remain incurable by Divinity, 
and shall obey my Pills when they contemn their precepts. I boast 
nothing, but plainly say, we all labour against our own cure; for 


29 Tables showing the daily state of the heavens. 
30 Astronomical conditions supposed to presage disaster. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 3 2 5 
death is the cure of all diseases. There is no Catholicon or universal 
remedy I know, but this; which, though nauseous to queasie stom- 
achs, yet to prepared appetites is Nectar, and a pleasant potion of 
immortality. 
X. For my Conversation,31 it is like the Sun's, with all men, and 
with a friendly aspect to good and bad. Methinks there is no man 
bad, and the worst, best; that is, while they are kept within the 
circle of those qualities wherein they are good: there is no man's 
mind of such discordant and jarring a temper, to which a tunable 
disposition may not strike a harmony. Magnæ virtutes, nee minora 
vitia [Great virtues, nor less vices]; it is the posie of the best natures, 
and may be inverted on the worst; there are in the most depraved 
and venemous dispositions, certain pieces that remain umoucht, 
which by an Antiperistasii 2 become more excellent, or by the excel- 
lency of their antipathies are able to preserve themselves from the 
contagion of their enemy vices, and persist intire beyond the gen- 
eral corruption. For it is also thus in nature: the greatest Balsomes 
do lie enveloped in the bodies of most powerful Corrosives. 33 I say, 
moreover, and I ground upon experience, that poisons contain 
within themselves their own Antidote, and that which preserves 
them from the venome of themselves, without which they were not 
deleterious to others onely, but to themselves also. But it is the cor- 
ruption that I fear within me, not the contagion of commercé' with- 
out me. 'Tis that unruly regiment 35 within me, that will destroy 
me; 'tis I that do infect my self; the man without a Navel 36 yet lives 
in me; I feel that original canker corrode and devour me; and there- 
fore Defenda me DIOS de me, "LoRD deliver me from my self," 
is a part of my Letany, and the first voice of my retired imagina- 
tions. There is no man alone, because every man is a Microcosm, 
and carries the whole W orId about him. Nunquam minus salus 
quam cum salus [Never less alone than when alone], though it be 
the Apothegme of a wise man, is yet true in the mouth of a fool. 
Indeed, though in a Wilderness, a man is never alone, not only be- 
cause he is with himself and his own thoughts, but because he is 
with the Devil, who ever consorts with our solitude, and is that 


31 Intercourse. 32 Heightening by contrast. 33 Poisons. 34 Intercourse. 
35 Company of evil impulses. 36 Adam, as not being born of woman. 



3 26 THOMAS BROWNE 
unruly rebel that musters up those disordered motions which ac- 
company our sequestred imaginations. And to speak more nar- 
rowly, there is no such thing as solitude, nor any thing that can 
be said to be alone and by itself, but GOD, Who is His own circle, 
and can subsist by Himself; all others, besides their dissimilary and 
Heterogeneous parts, which in a manner multiply their natures, 
cannot subsist without the concourse 37 of GOD, and the society of 
that hand which doth uphold their natures. In brief, there can be 
nothing truly alone and by it self, which is not truly one; and such 
is only GOD: all others do transcend an unity, and so by consequence 
are many. 
XI. Now for my life, it is a miracle of thirty years, which to relate, 
were not a History, but a piece of Poetry, and would sound to com- 
mon ears like a Fable. For the World, I count it not an Inn, but an 
Hospital; and a place not to live, but to dye in. The world that I 
regard is my self; it is the Microcosm of my own frame that I cast 
mine eye on; for the other, I use it but like my Globe, and turn it 
round sometimes for my recreation. Men that look upon my out- 
side, perusing only my condition and Fortunes, do err in my Alti- 
tude; for I am above Atlas his shoulders. The earth is a point not 
only in respect of the Heavens above us, but of that heavenly and 
celestial part within us: that mass of Flesh that circumscribes me, 
limits not my mind: that surface that tells the Heavens it hath an 
end, cannot persuade me I have any: I take my circle to be above 
three hundred and sixty; though the number of the Ark 38 do measure 
my body, it comprehendeth not my mind: whilst I study to find 
how I am a Microcosm, or little W orId, I find my self something 
more than the great. There is surely a piece of Divinity in us, 
something that was before the Elements, and owes no homage unto 
the Sun. Nature tells me I am the Image of GOD, as well as Scrip- 
ture: he that understands not thus much, hath not his introduction 
or first lesson, and is yet to begin the Alphabet of man. Let me not 
injure the felicity of others, if I say I am as happy as any: Ruat 
cæ/um, fiat vo/untas Tua [Let Thy will be done, though the heav- 
ens fall], salveth all; so that whatsoever happens, it is but what 
our daily prayers desire. In brief, I am content; and what should 
17 Cooperation. 38 Here, circumference of a circle. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 327 
Providence add more? Surely this is it we call Happiness, and this 
do I enjoy; with this I am happy in a dream, and as content to enjoy 
a happiness in a fancy, as others in a more apparent truth and realty. 
There is surely a neerer apprehension of any thing that delights 
us in our dreams, than in our waked senses: without this I were 
unhappy; for my awaked judgment discontents me, ever whisper- 
ing unto me, that I am from my friend; but my friendly dreams in 
the night requite me, and make me think I am within his arms. I 
thank GOD for my happy dreams, as I do for my good rest; for there 
is a satisfaction in them unto reasonable desires, and such as can be 
content with a fit of happiness: and surely it is not a melancholy con- 
ceit to think we are all asleep in this World, and that the conceits of 
this life are as meer dreams to those of the next; as the Phantasms of 
the night, to the conceits of the day. There is an equal delusion in 
both, and the one doth but seem to be the embleme or picture of the 
other: we are somewhat more than our selves in our sleeps, and 
the slumber of the body seems to be but the waking of the soul. It 
is the ligation 39 of sense, but the liberty of reason; and our waking 
conceptions do not match the Fancies of our sleeps. At my Nativity 
my Ascendant was the watery sign of Scorpius; I was born in the 
Planetary hour of Saturn, and I think I have a piece of that Leaden 
Planet in me. I am no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and 
galliardize 40 of company; yet in one dream I can compose a whole 
Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh my self 
awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory as faithful as my 
reason is then fruitful, I would never study but in my dreams; and 
this time also would I chuse for my devotions: but our grosser mem- 
ories have then so little hold of our abstracted understandings, that 
they forget the story, and can only relate to our awaked souls, a con- 
fused and broken tale of that that hath passed. Aristotle, who hath 
written a singular Tract 0/ Sleep, hath not, methinks, throughly 
defined it; nor yet Galen, though he seem to have corrected 
it; for those Noctambuloes and night-walkers, though in their sleep. 
do yet injoy the action of their senses. We must therefore say that 
there is something in us that is not in the jurisdiction of Morpheus; 
and that those abstracted and ecstatick souls do walk about in their 
39 Binding. 40 Merriment. 



3 28 


THOMAS BROWNE 


own corps, as spirits with the bodies they assume, wherein they seem 
to hear, see, and feel, though indeed the Organs are destitute of sense, 
and their natures of those faculties that should inform them. Thus 
it is observed, that men sometimes, upon the hour of their departure, 
do speak and reason above themselves; for then the soul, beginning 
to be freed from the ligaments of the body, begins to reason like her 
self, and to discourse in a strain above mortality. 
XII. We term sleep a death; and yet it is waking that kills us, 
and destroys those spirits that are the house of life. 'Tis indeed a 
part of life that best expresseth death; for every man truely lives, 
so long as he acts his nature, or some way makes good the faculties 
of himself. Themistocles, therefore, that slew his Soldier in his sleep, 
was a merciful Executioner: 'tis a kind of punishment the mildness 
of no laws hath invented: I wonder the fancy of Lucan and Seneca 
did not discover it. It is that death by which we may be literally 
said to dye daily; a death which Adam dyed before his mortality; a 
death whereby we live a middle and moderating point between life 
and death: in fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my 
prayers, and an half adieu unto the W orId, and take my farwel in a 
Colloq uy with GOD. 
The night is come, like to the day, 
Depart not Thou, great GOD, away. 
Let not my sins, black as the night, 
Eclipse the lustre of Thy light: 
Keep still in my Horizon; for to me 
The Sun makes not the day, but Thee. 
Thou, Whose nature cannot sleep, 
On my temples Centry keep; 
Guard me ' gainst those watchful foes, 
Whose eyes are open while mine close. 
Let no dreams my head infest, 
But such as Jacob's temples blest. 
While I do rest, my Soul advance; 
Make my sleep a holy trance; 
That I may, my rest being wrought, 
Awake into some holy thought; 
And with as active vigour run 
My course, as doth the nimble Sun. 
Sleep is a death; 0 make me try, 
By sleeping. what it is to die; 



RELIGIO MEDICI 
And as gently lay my head 
On my grave, as now my bed. 
However I rest, great GOD, let me 
A wake again at last with Thee; 
And thus assur'd, behold I lie 
Securely, or to awake or die. 
These are my drowsie days; in vain 
I do not wake to sleep again: 
o come that hour, when I shall never 
Sleep again, but wake for ever. 


3 2 9 


This is the Dormative 41 I take to bedward; I need no other Lauda- 
num than this to make me sleep; after which I close mine eyes in 
security, content to take my leave of the Sun, and sleep unto the 
Resurrection. 
XIII. The method I should use in distributive J ustice,42 I often ob- 
serve in commutative;43 and keep a Geometrical proportion in both, 
whereby becoming equable to others, I become unjust to my self, 
and supererogate 44 in that common principle, Do unto others as thou 
wouldst be done unto thy self. I was not born unto riches, neither 
is it, I think, my Star to be wealthy; or, if it were, the freedom of 
my mind, and frankness of my disposition, were able to contradict 
and cross my fates: for to me, avarice seems not so much a vice, as 
a deplorable piece of madness; to conceive ourselves pipkins, or be 
perswaded that we are dead, is not so ridiculous, nor so many degrees 
beyond the power of Hellebore,45 as this. The opinions of Theory, 
and positions of men, are not so void of reason as their practised 
conclusions. Some have held that Snow is black, that the earth 
moves, that the Soul is air, fire, water; but all this is Philosophy, and 
there is no delirium, if we do but speculate 46 the folly and indis- 
putable dotage of avarice. To that subterraneous Idol and God of the 
Earth I do confess I am an Atheist; I cannot perswade myself to 
honour that the World adores; whatsoever virtue its prepared sub- 
stance 47 may have within my body, it hath no influence nor opera- 
tion without. I would not entertain a base design, or an action that 
41 Sleeping draft. 
42 Distribution of rewards and punishments according to the desert of each. 
43 The justice which is corrective in transactions bctween man and man, cxercised 
in arithmetical proportion. The distinction is made by Aristotle. 
44 Do more than is necessary. 45 Used as a remedy for madness. 46 Consider. 
47 Gold was commonly used as a medicine. 



330 THOMAS BROWNE 
should call me villain, for the Indies; and for this only do I love 
and honour my own soul, and have methinks two arms too few to 
embrace myself. Aristotle is too severe, that will not allow us to be 
truely liberal withoLlt wealth, and the bountiful hand of Fortune. 
If this be true, I must confess I am charitable only in my liberal 
intentions, and bountiful well-wishes; but if the example of the Mite 
be not only an act of wonder, but an example of the noblest Charity, 
surely poor men may also build Hospitals, and the rich alone have 
not erected Cathedrals. I have a private method which others observe 
not; I take the opportunity of my self to do good; I borrow occasion 
of Charity from mine own necessities, and supply the wants of 
others, when I am in most need my self: for it is an honest stratagem 
to take advantage of our selves, and so to husband the acts of vertue, 
that, where they are defective in one circumstance, they may repay 
their want and multiply their goodness in another. I have not Peru 48 
in my desires, but a competence, and ability to perform those good 
works to which He hath inclined my nature. He is rich, who hath 
enough to be charitable; and it is hard to be so poor, that a noble 
mind may not find a way to this piece of goodness. He that giveth to 
tIle poor, lendeth to the LORD: there is more Rhetorick in that one 
sentence, than in a Library of Sermons; and indeed, if those Sen- 
tences were understood by the Reader, with the same Emphasis as 
they are delivered by the Author, we needed not those Volumes of 
instructions, but might be honest by an Epitome. Upon this motive 
only I cannot behold a Beggar without relieving his Necessities with 
my Purse, or his Soul with my Prayers; these scenical and accidental 
differences between us, cannot make me forget that common and un- 
toucht part of us both: there is under these Centoel 9 and miserable 
outsides, these mutilate and semi-bodies, a soul of the same alloy 
with our own, whose Genealogy is GOD as well as ours, and in as 
fair a way to Salvation as our selves. Statists that labour to contrive 
a Common-wealth without poverty, take away the object of charity, 
not understanding only the Commonwealth of a Christian, but for- 
getting the prophecie of CHRIST .50 
XIV. Now, there is another part of charity, which is the Basis and 


48 A symbol of vast wealth. 49 Masses of patches. 
50 "The poor ye have always with ye:. 



RELIGIO MEDICI 33 I 
Pillar of this, and that is the love of GOD, for Whom we love our 
neighbour; for this I think charity, to love GOD for Himself, and 
our neighbour for GOD. All that is truly amiable is GOD, or as it were 
a divided piece of Him, that retains a reflex or shadow of Himself. 
Nor is it strange that we should place affection on that which is 
invisible: all that we truly love is thus; what we adore under affec- 
tion of our senses, deserves not the honour of so pure a tide. Thus 
we adore Virtue, though to the eyes of sense she be invisible: thus 
that part of our noble friends that we love, is not that part that we 
imbrace, but that insensible part that our arms cannot embrace. 
GOD, being all goodness, can love nothing but Himself; He loves us 
but for that part which is as it were Himself, and the traduction 51 
of His Holy Spirit. Let us call to assize the loves of our parents, 
the affection of our wives and children, and they are all dumb shows 
and dreams, without reality, truth, or constancy. For first there is a 
strong bond of affection between us and our Parents; yet how easily 
dissolved! We betake our selves to a woman, forget our mother in 
a wife, and the womb that bare us, in that that shall bear our Image. 
This woman blessing us with children, our affection leaves the level 
it held before, and sinks from our bed unto our issue and picture of 
Posterity, where affection holds no steady mansion. They, growing 
up in years, desire our ends; or applying themselves to a woman, take 
a lawful way to love another better than our selves. Thus I perceive 
a man may be buried alive, and behold his grave in his own issue. 
XV. I conclude therefore, and say, there is no happiness under 
(or, as Copernicus will have it, above) the Sun, nor any Crambe 52 
in that repeated verity and burthen of all the wisdom of Solomon, 
All is vanity and vexation of Spirit. There is no felicity in that the 
World adores. Aristode, whilst he labours to refute the Idea's of 
Plato, falls upon one himself; for his summum bonum is a Chimæra, 
and there is no such thing as his Felicity. That wherein GOD Himself 
is happy, the holy Angels are happy, in whose defect the Devils are 
unhappy, that dare I call happiness: whatsoever conduceth unto this, 
may with an easy Metaphor deserve that name; whatsoever else the 
World terms Happiness, is to me a story out of Pliny, a tale of 
Boccace or Malizspini, an apparition, or neat delusion, wherein there 
51 Derivative. 52 "Tiresome repetition." 



332 THOMAS BROWNE 
is no more of Happiness than the name. Bless me in this life with 
but peace of my Conscience, command of my affections, the love of 
Thy self and my dearest friends, and I shall be happy enough to pity 
Cæsar. These are, 0 LORD, the humble desires of my most reasonable 
ambition, and all I dare call happiness on earth; wherein I set no 
rule or limit to Thy Hand or Providence. Dispose of me according 
to the wisdom of Thy pleasure: Thy will be done, though in my own 
undoing. 


FINIS 



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